slow to anger

The phrase that is typically translated in English as “slow to anger” is rendered in Bawm with the idiom “be of a long mind.”

before, in front of

In Babatana, the phrase that is translated into English as “before” or “in front of the Covenant Box” must be translated with a phrase that means “on the ground in front of the Covenant Box” or else it would mean “on the front of the Box.”

age of Samaritan woman at the well

In Kuy the term the woman uses for what is translated in English as “sir” implies that she was older than Jesus (see verse 4:11), and the term Jesus uses for what is translated in English as “woman” in verse 4:21 reflects this, as he addresses her as “younger aunt.”

dual vs. plural (Acts 7:16)

In this episode in Acts it is ambiguous whether only Jacob and Joseph or Jacob and all of the other patriarchs were were taken back to Shechem. In languages that distinguish between a dual and a plural this ambiguity has to be resolved. In the translation into Kahua only two bodies were taken back because Joseph’s body is specifically mentioned in Exod 13:19 and Josh 24:32.


The term that is translated in English as “pillar” is translated as the “central upright poles of a house” in Hakha Chin. Hakha Chin speakers are mountain people who build houses with bamboo and palm thatch, not stone.

apostle, apostles

(To view the different translations of this term in a simplified graphical form on a new page, click or tap here.)

The Greek term that is translated as “apostle(s)” in English is (back-) translated in the following ways:


The Greek “Syzygus” (from “syzyge”) may be a proper name, but this exegesis was not acceptable in Kahua because its equivalent form, Sisiko, means “farting.”


The term that is translated as “unstable” in English is rendered into Kahua with the simile that means “like butterflies.”

furious, in anger

The term that is translated as “in anger” or “furious” in English versions, is rendered in Mekeo as “from his inside fire came out.”

Isaiah, Jesse

In Fuyug the name “Jesse” sounded like a word meaning to have sex, so a change was needed to avoid this. Then there arose a risk of confusion with the name “Isaiah.” It ended up with Jesse as “Aisaja” and Isaiah as “Isai.”

anchor (figurative)

The Greek that is translated into English as “anchor (of the soul)” in English is, due to non-existing nautical language, rendered as xuk’chotontib (“that which becomes unmovable”) in Chol (source: Steven 1979, p. 75), as “iron crab” in Bawm Chin (source; David Clark), as “foundation” in Tsou (source: Peng Kuo-Wei), in Mossi as “a strong and steadfast picketting-peg” (source: Nida 1952, p. 46) and in Enlhet as “that holds up like a rope” (source: See Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 24ff).

In Kouya the translation is “the foundation which keeps a house secure.” Eddie Arthur tells this story: “A slightly more prosaic example comes from Paul’s sea voyages in the Book of Acts. In Acts 27, when Paul’s ship was facing a huge storm, there are several references to throwing out the anchor to save the ship. Now the Kouya live in a tropical rain-forest and have no vessels larger than dug-out canoes used for fishing on rivers. The idea of an anchor was entirely foreign to them. However, it was relatively easy to devise a descriptive term along the lines of ‘boat stopping metal’ that captured the essential nature of the concept. This was fine when we were translating the word anchor in its literal sense. However, in Hebrews 6:19 we read that hope is an anchor for our souls. It would clearly make no sense to use ‘boat stopping metal’ at this point as the concept would simply not have any meaning. So in this verse we said that faith was like the foundation which keeps a house secure. One group working in the Sahel region of West Africa spoke of faith being like a tent peg which keeps a tent firm against the wind. I hope you can see the way in which these two translations capture the essence of the image in the Hebrews verse while being more appropriate to the culture.”