The Hebrew that is rendered in English as “proverbs” (or “Proverbs” as the title of the book) is translated into Pökoot as ngötïnyö (or Ngötïnyö), which refers to use of figurative language that is used in such a way that things are being said in an indirect way. At the same time they communicate general wisdom.


The Hebrew that is rendered into English as “palace” is translated into Bukusu as “the house of the big chief.”

form, nature

The Greek that is translated in English versions as “form” or “nature” (in “though he was in the form / nature of God”) is translated into Naro as the same “color” (tc’úúan) as God. This expression is widely used and generally known in Naro. (See also God’s nature.)


The Greek that is rendered as “image” in English translations is translated in Pökoot with körkeyïn, a word that is also used to translate words like parable and example.

See also parable.

wearing a crown

The Hebrew that is rendered in English as “(bring Queen Vashti…) with her royal crown” was first translated into Bukusu as “wearing a crown,” but this appears to suggest that she did not wear anything else. Changed to: “She was well dressed, wearing her crown.”

greater light, lesser light

The Hebrew phrases that are translated as “greater light” and “lesser light” in English versions are translated into Naro as kaia khara x’áà khara which can also be interpreted as “older” and “younger” light. “In combination with ‘chief’ (as translation for the figure ‘to rule’ or ‘to govern’) this makes for a creative solution that communicates the meaning well.”

See also let there be light.

living God

The Hebrew that is rendered in English as “the living God” is translated into Bukusu as “God who is there.” In the Bukusu culture it is impossible to talk about a “living God.” That would make a mockery of God. The expression “the God who is there” is a confession of the fact that he is active and present.

long for, yearn for

The Hebrew phrase that is rendered “for his heart yearned for his brother” in English versions is translated into Naro as tcáóa ba nxùrù: “his heart burned.” This implies longing and affection. He was moved.

harden heart

The Hebrew that is translated into English as forms of “(to not) harden heart” is translated into other languages with their own vivid idioms; for example, Thai uses “black-hearted” (source: Bratcher / Hattoon, p. 272), Pökoot as makany kwoghïghitu mötöwekwo: “do not let become hard your heads” (source: Gerrit van Steenbergen), or Anuak as “make liver strong” (source: Loren Bliese).

See also hardness of heart and see Seat of the Mind for traditional views of “ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling.”

cast down

The Hebrew phrase that is rendered in English versions as “why are you cast down, O my soul” is translated into Bukusu as “my heart is heavy.” This indicates deep sorrow and trouble.


“Brothers” has to be translated into Naro as “younger brothers and older brothers” (Tsáá qõea xu hẽé / naka tsáá kíí). All brothers are included this way, also because of the kind of plural that has been used.

This also must be more clearly defined in Yucateco as older or younger (suku’un or Iits’in), but here there are both older and younger brothers. Yucateco does have a more general word for close relative, family member.

While in Chinese there is also a differentiation between younger and older brother (didi 弟弟 vs. gege 哥哥”), the term dixiong 弟兄 or xiongdi 兄弟 is used as the unspecific plural form for “brothers” in these cases.


The Hebrew and the Greek that is usually directly translated as “kiss” in English is translated more indirectly in other languages because kissing is deemed as inappropriate, is not a custom at all, or is not customary in the particular context (see the English translation of J.B. Phillips, 1960 in Rom. 16:16: “Give each other a hearty handshake”). Here are some examples:

  • Pökoot: “greet warmly” (“kissing in public, certainly between men, is absolutely unacceptable in Pökoot.”) (Source: Gerrit van Steenbergen)
  • Chamula Tzotzil, Ixcatlán Mazatec, Tojolabal: “greet each other warmly” or “hug with feeling” (source: Robert Bascom)
  • Afar: “gaba tittal ucuya” (“give hands to each other”) (Afar kiss each other’s hands in greeting) (source: Loren Bliese)
  • Roviana: “welcome one another joyfully”
  • Cheke Holo: “Love each other in the way-joined-together that is holy” (esp. in Rom. 16:16) or “greet with love” (esp. 1Thess. 5:26 and 1Pet. 5.14)
  • Pitjantjatjara: “And when you meet/join up with others of Jesus’ relatives hug and kiss them [footnote], for you are each a relative of the other through Jesus.” Footnote: “This was their custom in that place to hug and kiss one another in happiness. Maybe when we see another relative of Jesus we shake hands and rejoice.” (esp. Rom. 16:16) (source for this and two above: Carl Gross)
  • Balanta-Kentohe and Mandinka: “touch cheek” or “cheek-touching” (“sumbu” in Malinka)
  • Mende: “embrace” (“greet one another with the kiss of love”: “greet one another and embrace one another to show that you love one another”) (source for this and two above: Rob Koops)
  • Gen: “embrace affectionately” (source: John Ellington)
  • Kachin: “holy and pure customary greetings” (source: Gam Seng Shae)
  • Kahua: “smell” (source: David Clark) (also in Ekari and Kekchí, source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • San Blas Kuna: “smell the face” (source: Claudio and Marvel Iglesias in The Bible Translator 1951, p. 85ff.)
  • Nyanja: “to suck” (“habit and term a novelty amongst the young and more or less westernized people, the traditional term for greeting a friend after a long absence being, ‘to clap in the hands and laugh happily'”)
  • Medumba: “suck the cheek” (“a novelty, the traditional term being ‘to embrace.'”)
  • Shona (version of 1966): “to hug”
  • Balinese: “to caress” (source for this and three above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • Colorado: earlier version: “greet in a friendly way,” later revision: “kiss on the face” (Bruce Moore [in: Notes on Translation 1/1992), p. 1ff.] explains: “Formerly, kissing had presented a problem. Because of the Colorados’ limited exposure to Hispanic culture they understood the kiss only in the eros context. Accordingly, the original translation had rendered ‘kiss’ in a greeting sense as ‘greet in a friendly way’. The actual word ‘kiss’ was not used. Today ‘kiss’ is still an awkward term, but the team’s judgment was that it could be used as long as long as it was qualified. So ‘kiss’ (in greeting) is now ‘kiss on the face’ (that is, not on the lips).)