bread, loaf

The Greek term that is translated in English as “bread” or “loaf” is translated in Chol as waj, the equivalent of a tortilla.

John Beekman (in The Bible Translator 1962, p. 180f.) explains: “The word ‘bread’ in Scripture primarily occurs as either a specific term for bread (including the Lord’s Supper), or as a generic term for food. It is not surprising, however, the some aboriginal groups use something other than bread as the staff of life. The Chols, with their cultural focus in the cultivation of corn, use waj, a type of thin corn flake. Since a meal is not complete without this main item of food, the term has been extended to include any other foods which may be served along with waj. While bread is known to them, its use is limited to a few occasions during the year when it functions as a dessert. In translating this term in the Chol New Testament, consistent use has been made of the word waj whenever the function of bread as a basic food was in focus. John 6:35, “I am the bread of life,” was thus translated with this word. If the word for bread had been used, it was feared that the Chol would compare Christ to the desirable, but not absolutely necessary, dessert.”

In Samo, it is translated as “Sago,” which serves “like ‘bread’ for the Hebrews, as a generic for food in the Samo language. It is a near-perfect metonymy that has all the semantic elements necessary for effective communication.” (Source: Daniel Shaw in: Scriptura 96/2007, p. 501ff.)

rhetorical use of first person plural pronoun

The Greek that is translated as “We should not commit sexual immorality” is translated in Sierra de Juárez Zapotec as “You should not commit sexual immorality.”

John Beekman (in Notes on Translation 19, 1965, p. 1-10) explains that in the Pauline epistles “a passage [often] starts out in the second person [and is then] changed to the first person to spare the readers of any negative reactions to the mention of their actual state. In most passages where Paul includes himself, the correction or warning that is given is sufficiently general in nature to apply to any believer. In some passages, however, the content of the injunctions are rather specific and perhaps not applicable to such an one as Paul, especially if they carry negative implications concerning his conduct. The Sierra de Juárez Zapotec language helper objected to the first person form used in 1 Corinthians 10:8 on the grounds that it suggested that Paul was at that time indulging in immorality; or actively contemplating it. This was changed to second person.”

housetops

The Greek that is translated in English “housetops” or similar in English is translated in Central Mazahua as “where you meet your fellowmen” (source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965, p. 2ff.).

throne

The Greek that is translated into English versions as “throne” is translated into Naro as ntcõó-q’oo: “he will rule.” The figure of the “throne” cannot be translated in the egalitarian Naro culture, so the idea had to be expressed more explicitly. (Source: Gerrit van Steenbergen)

In other languages it is translated as “stool/seat of the king” (Marathi), “seat of commanding/chieftainship” (Highland Totonac, Kituba), “seat of the Supreme one (lit. of-him-who-has-the umbrella)” (Toraja-Sa’dan — the umbrella being a well-known symbol of power in various parts of South and South-East Asia), “glorious place to sit” (Ekari) (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel), “where God sits and rules” (Estado de México Otomi), “where God reigns” (Central Mazahua) (source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965, p. 2ff.), or “bed of kingship” (Kafa) (source: Loren Bliese).

complete verse (1John 3:24)

Following are a number of back-translation of 1John 3:24:

Yatzachi Zapotec: “If we are doing what he commands, we are constantly with God, and God is constantly with us. And we know that he is constantly with us because he has given us his Spirit.”

Eastern Highland Otomi: “Whoever does what he says, lives with God, and God also resides in his heart. And we know that we live with God because he gave us his good Spirit.”

Tzotzil: Because if we obey his commands, we are in his presence. God is in our hearts. Because is in our hearts the Holy Spirit that God has given us, therefore we know that God is in our hearts.”

Source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation 12, November 1964, p. 1ff.

gnash teeth, grind teeth

The Greek that is translated into English as “gnashed their teeth” or “ground their teeth” is translated in Pwo Karen as “their eyes were green/blue with anger” (source: David Clark), in Yao as “they had itchy teeth” (“meaning they very anxious to destroy him”) (source: Nida / Reyburn, p. 56), and Estado de México Otomi as “gnashed their teeth at him to show anger” (to specify their emotion) (source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965, p. 2ff.).

See also gnashing of teeth.

complete verse (3John 1:1)

Following are a number of back-translation of 3John 1:1:

Yatzachi Zapotec: “I in my old age am writing to you dear Gayo. Truly I love you.”

Eastern Highland Otomi: “I am the Old-Man Leader, I am sending this paper to you, dear Gaius, loved one. And also I love you in regards to the true Word which we (dual) believe.”

Isthmus Zapotec: “I am an old man. I am writing this letter to a friend of mine, (whose) name is Gayo, whom I truly love.”

Garifuna: “I, an elderly person, write to my friend the one named Gayo (necessary to avoid the connotation of writing to a rooster), the one whom I love. I love you with all my heart (genuine love).”

Source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation 12, November 1964, p. 1ff.

Word of life

The Greek that is translated as “Word of life” in most English versions is translated as “the one named Word, the one who gives life” in Garifuna and “the one called word that is in charge of all life” in Tzotzil.

Source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation November 1964, p. 1-22.

bread of life

The Greek that is translated in English is translated in Bambam as “food of life” since “bread is considered a light and unnecessary snack.” (Source: Phil Campbell in Kroneman 2004, p. 500) Similarly, Huehuetla Tepehua has “that food that gives eternal life” and Aguaruna has “the food that gives eternal life.” (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125)

In Chol, it is translated as Joñon Wajo, the “waj (tortilla) of life.” John Beekman (in The Bible Translator 1962, p. 180f.) explains: “The word ‘bread’ in Scripture primarily occurs as either a specific term for bread (including the Lord’s Supper), or as a generic term for food. It is not surprising, however, the some aboriginal groups use something other than bread as the staff of life. The Chols, with their cultural focus in the cultivation of corn, use waj, a type of thin corn flake. Since a meal is not complete without this main item of food, the term has been extended to include any other foods which may be served along with waj. While bread is known to them, its use is limited to a few occasions during the year when it functions as a dessert. In translating this term in the Chol New Testament, consistent use has been made of the word waj whenever the function of bread as a basic food was in focus. John 6:35, “I am the bread of life,” was thus translated with this word. If the word for bread had been used, it was feared that the Chol would compare Christ to the desirable, but not absolutely necessary, dessert.”

as numerous as the sand on the seashore

The Greek and Hebrew that is translated as “as numerous as the sand on the seashore” or “as numerous as the sand by the sea” in English is translated in Bauzi as “as many like the tree flowers of the jungle” (source: David Briley in Kroneman 2004, p. 539), in Afar translated as mari mangah arrooqih gide akkuk yeneeniih: “are as numerous as gravel” or loowo sinni: “not countable” (source: Loren Bliese), in Angal Heneng as “like the hairs on a dog” (Source: Deibler / Taylor 1977, p. 1077), and in Copainalá Zoque as “their number is like ants” (source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965, p. 2ff.).