merchant

The Hebrew that is translated as “merchants” (for Leviathan) in English had to be translated more specifically in Poqomchi’.

Ronald Ross explains: “In at least some Mayan languages the word for ‘vendor’ cannot be used without expressing what it is they sell. So here, in Poqomchi’ we have had to put ‘fish vendors,’ even though we are assuming that Leviathan is a crocodile. [See Leviathan] It seems that even in the Hebrew the context is that of a fish market, which is logical since Leviathan is considered to be a sea monster. This may be a case of Hebrew classification of anything that swims or lives in the water being a fish, like anything that flies is a bird (bats, for example).”

hole / cave

The Hebrew that is translated in English as “He came to a cave (…) and went in to relieve himself. It happened to be the very cave in which David and his men were hiding far back in the cave.” or similar was problematic to translate in Kaqchikel “because the words for ‘cave’ and ‘hole’ are the same in Kaqchikel. So if you are not careful you can wind up with Saul relieving himself in a hole with David at the bottom. In Kaqchikel this was resolved by means of the directional apo (‘onward’) as opposed to ka (‘downward’) (Y rija’ xok k’a apo chiri’ richin . . .) which implies he kept walking more or less on a level plain.”

implicit information made explicit (Job 41:8)

The Hebrew is translated in English as “Lay hands on it [the Leviathan]; think of the battle; you will not do it again!” or similar. Here and in the Hebrew original the fear of touching the Leviathan again is implied. In Poqomchi’ it had to be made explicit with the addition of “because you’ll be very much afraid of him.”

See also Leviathan.

sword fell out

In the Hebrew text Joab drops his dagger (or: sword) in verse 8 and then uses it to stab Amasa in verse 10 without any mention that he picked it up again. In languages like Kaqchikel it is “necessary to mention that at some point he picked it up. This does seem to affect the element of surprise, but still in languages like Kaqchikel Joab cannot stab Amasa until he picks up his dagger.”

rejoice with trembling

The Hebrew that is translated as “rejoice with trembling” (or just: “trembling”) in English is translated in Poqomchi’ with the existing phrase “tremble with joy,” “so the source of the trembling seems to come from the joy and not from the fear of God.”

summon Bathsheba

The Hebrew that is typically translated as “summon Bathsheba” in English in 1 Kings 1:28 had to be translated in Q’anjob’al in a manner that explained that she first left away (since she is mentioned as present in the preceding verses). To circumnavigate this problem, the translators mention in verse 23 that Bathsheba left.

Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name

Ron Ross talks about the problems of metaphors in translation in relation to Psalm 89:12 where The Hebrew is translated in English as “[the mountains] Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.” “[This] will be tough in many languages in which such metaphoric uses either sound ridiculous or are taken literally. This seems to be the case in Poqomchi’. When I suggested to the Poqomchi’ translator that he try to keep the image of the mountains singing, his response was that he could do that, because nothing is impossible for God.”

God of Elijah

The Hebrew that is translated in English as “(Where is) the God of Elijah” is difficult to translate in some Mayan languages. “If you say the God of Elijah, you are implying that he is not the God of Elisha. It has to be translated as something like, ‘Where is the power that God gave to Elijah.'”

my son / child

The Hebrew that is translated in English as “my son” or “my child” was translated in Poqomchi’ as hat wak’uun noq wilkaat: “you my son (as it were)” because “in many languages (including the Mayan ones), can only be said to one’s offspring.”

tied the money up in bags

The Hebrew that is translated as “tied [the money] up in bags” was problematic in the Kaqchikel translation. Ron Ross explains: “The Kaqchikels wanted to have them put the money in baskets, which is what they carry things in, but they agreed to using bags if we said something like ‘they put the money in bags in order to give them to those in charge of the remodeling of the temple.'”