rudder

The Greek that is translated as “(small) rudder” in English is translated in Yatzachi Zapotec as “(a small) stick,” in Mezquital Otomi as “a (little) metal,” in Rincón Zapotec as “(little) wooden hand” (source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation July, 1967, p. 5ff.), in Eastern Highland Otomi as “thing that is in the water that steers the boat,” in Teutila Cuicatec as “paddle that steered the ship” (source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.), and in Tetelcingo Nahuatl as “board to steer” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.).

See also ship and anchor.

locust

The Hebrew, Latin and Greek that is translated in English as “locust” is translated in Ayutla Mixtec as “insect like flying ants” because locusts are not known locally (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.), in Shuar as “edible grasshoppers” (especially in connection with John the Baptist) (source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.), and in Pa’o Karen as “grashopper” (source: Gordon Luce in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 153f. ).

See also locust (different kinds in Joel 1:4 and 2:25).

myrrh

The Greek and Hebrew that is translated as “myrrh” in English is translated as “bitter medicine” in Michoacán Nahuatl and as “myrrh perfume” in Tzotzil (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.).

In Mark 15:23, Usila Chinantec translates it as “the herb myrrh which is useful so that one not feel pain in his body. (Source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)

See also mixture of myrrh with aloes.

anchor

The Greek that is translated into English as “anchor” in English is, due to non-existing nautical language, rendered as kayo’ barko (“an instrument that keeps the boat from drifting”) in Chol (source: Steven 1979, p. 76), “iron hooks” (“that make the boat stop”) in Isthmus Mixe, “irons called ‘anchors’ with ropes” in Teutila Cuicatec (source for this and above: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.), “weights, and thus they were able to make the boat stand” in Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac (source: Larson 1998, p. 99), “an iron attached to a rope attached to the boat so that it may not drift away” in Lalana Chinantec (source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965, p. 2ff.), “a thing that makes the water vehicle stand still” in Kamwe (source: Roger Mohrlang in here), “the metal piece that was in the water that detained the boat” in Eastern Highland Otomi (source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.), “iron crab” in Bawm Chin (source: David Clark), and “big canoe stopping metal” in Kouya.

Eddie Arthur tells the story of the translation into Kouya: “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.”

Click or tap here to see a short video clip showing an anchor in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)

See also ship / boat, rudder, and anchor (figurative).

stocks

The Greek that is typically translated as “stocks” in English is translated in Isthmus Mixe as “notched boards” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.).

In Lalana Chinantec it is translated as “where planks have holes in them and where peoples’ feet are tight,” in Chichimeca-Jonaz as “bit their feet with wood,” and in Morelos Nahuatl as “stuck between two boards.” (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

“Stocks” is illustrated for use in Bible translations in East Africa by Pioneer Bible Translators like this:

Image owned by PBT and Jonathan McDaniel and licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

motion (to speak)

The Greek that is translated as “motion (to speak)” or “make a sign (to speak)” in English is translated Isthmus Mixe translated as “winked with both eye” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.).

See also motion to.

cast lots

    The Greek and Hebrew that is translated as “casting” or “drawing lots” in English is often translated with a specific idiom, such as “to take out bamboo slips” — 掣 籤 chè qiān (in most Mandarin Chinese Bibles), “each to pick-up which is-written (i.e. small sticks inscribed with characters and used as slots)” (Batak Toba), a term for divination by means of reed stalks (Toraja-Sa’dan).

    In some cases a cultural equivalent is not available, or it is felt to be unsuitable in this situation, e.g. in Ekari where “to spin acorns” has the connotation of gambling, one may have to state the fact without mentioning the means, e.g. “it came to him,” (source for this and all above: Reiling / Swellengrebel). In Shipibo-Conibo there was no equivalent for “casting lots” so the translation for Mark 15:24 is descriptive: “they shook little things to decide what each one should take” (source: Nida 1952, p. 47).

    Other solutions include:

    • Purari: “throw shells” (source: David Clark)
    • Kwara’ae (in Acts 1:26) “they played something like dice to find out who of the two God chose (God revealed his will that way)” (source: Carl Gross)
    • Navajo: “draw straws”
    • Yatzachi Zapotec “raffle”
    • Chol “choose by a game” (source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125)
    • Chichimeca-Jonaz: “threw one or two little hard things that had a sign…to see which person it would be”
    • Kekchí: “try with luck”
    • Lalana Chinantec: “there were little things they played with that made evident who it would be who would be lucky”
    • Chuj: “enter luck upon them”
    • Ayutla Mixtec: “put out luck” (Source for this and five above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
    • Lacandon: “play with small stones in order to see who was going to win” (source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)

    In North Alaskan Inupiatun a term for “gambling” is used. The same Inupiatun term is also used in Esther 3:7, “though there winning and losing is not in view, but rather choosing by chance” (source: Robert Bascom)

    The stand-alone term that is translated “lots” in English is translated as “two pieces of potsherd” in Highland Totonac. (Source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.)

spit upon

The Greek that is translated in English as “spit” is translated in Chipaya as “eject saliva” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.).

In Noongar it is narridja-kwarda or “spittle-throw” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

See also spit and touched.