cousin

The Greek that is translated into English as “cousin” is translated into Banaro as “Barnabas’s younger brother.”

William Butler (see here) tells this story:

“For ‘cousin’ Samuel had used the word ‘donghang,’ the singular form of the word we had used for ‘brothers’ in other places in the book. However, the checking committee rejected the singular form being used in that way. They insisted that a proper kinship term be used. That is where our problem began. There is no Banaro term that means the same as ‘cousin.’ In the Banaro system, all your uncles and aunts are called by the kinship term for ‘father’ and ‘mother.’ Therefore, it is only logical that their children, your first cousins, are referred to by the same term as ‘brother’ and ‘sister.’ And guess what you call their children? ‘Son’ and ‘daughter’! So you see there isn’t any room in the system for cousins, as the English word is used.

“Somewhere in the discussion I remembered that we weren’t translating from English but Greek, so I looked up the Greek word that is translated cousin in English, hoping to find some help. The Greek word is more specific than the English word, specifying a first cousin. Therefore, we needed to use the correct Banaro term for a first cousin: ‘brother.’ Not so hard, eh?

“But in Banaro there is no general kinship term for brother. Age rank is important in the culture so one must specify older brother or younger brother. Considering that Barnabas seemed to take Mark under his wing and Mark’s action in turning back on the journey he started out on with Paul and Barnabas, we decided that Mark was likely younger. He is, therefore, ‘Barnabas’s younger brother.’ You have to realize that when a Banaro person reads this he will not automatically assume that Barnabas and Mark are siblings of the same parents but will consider the wide range of relationships covered by this term in their culture. We will also have a footnote trying to further define the kinship relationship that likely existed between the two men.”

coming

The Greek that is translated into English as “coming” is translated into Banaro as “going.”

William Butler (see here) tells this story:

“The translation stated: ‘You have already heard the talk that he (Mark) is coming to you.’ This followed both the English and Pidgin translations, but the checkers did not like it. From the perspective of Paul, as he was writing the letter, Mark would be moving away from him and toward the Colossians so he would be ‘going’ to the Colossians. So to produce an accurate meaning in Banaro, we had to change the ‘coming’ to ‘going.'”

Jesus, whose other name is Justus

The Greek that is translated into English as “Jesus, whose other name is Justus” is translated into Banaro as “a ground (earthly) man whose name is Jesus, whose other name is Justus.”

William Butler (see here) tells this story:

“The translation introduced the next person as ‘a ground (earthly) man whose name is Jesus, whose other name is Justus.’ ‘Ground man’ is a term that we have used previously to refer to people of the earth, usually with the connotation of ‘sinful people.’ I could not figure out why Samuel had characterized a companion of Paul in this way so I asked the checkers, ‘Why is the word ‘ground’ in there?’ I got a look that said, ‘Are you really that stupid?’ then the explanation, ‘The man’s name is Jesus. If we don’t tell people that he is a ‘ground man,’ people will be confused and think that Paul is talking about Jesus, God’s son.’ Okay, I never thought about it that way but it does make sense.'”

who is one of you

The Greek that is translated into English as “who is one of you” is translated into Banaro as “he is one of your men, a Colossi native.”

William Butler (see here) tells this story:

“The [English] text says, ‘Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ, sends greetings’ (NIV). It was the ‘who is one of you’ phrase that gave us trouble. Samuel had translated it, ‘Another man is Epaphras. He also is your man.’ The ‘also’ refers back to a similar note about Onesimus in verse 9; ‘your man’ was meant to indicate that he was from Colossi.

“For the possessive pronoun ‘your (plural)’ Samuel had used the correct form nuna. However, when I asked the checkers to translate the sentence into the Pidgin language, they consistently used the Pidgin pronoun that means ‘our (inclusive),’ that is, both the speaker (Paul) and the hearers (the Colossians). How did ‘your man’ become ‘our man’? In Banaro nuna can mean either ‘your (plural)’ or ‘our (inclusive).’ Only the context determines to whom the pronoun refers. In this case, in the context of Paul listing his colleagues, the checkers assumed that he was introducing Epaphras as another of ‘his men.’ The context was insufficient to point them to the correct meaning for the word. To clarify that nuna should be understood as ‘your’ here, we added two words that mean “a Colossi native.’ So now the translation is understood as ‘he is one of your men, a Colossi native.'”

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand

The Greek that is translated into English as “I, Paul, write this greeting in (or: with) my own hand” is translated into Banaro as “I myself by my hand am writing to you the last talk that is on this paper here.”

William Butler (see here) tells this story:

“… we got to verse 18, where Paul takes the pen from his scribe to write greetings in his own handwriting. The first part of that verse says, ‘I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand’ (NIV). The translation said, ‘I am Paul. I myself by my hand am writing this paper to you.’ It was fine except that everyone understood that ‘this paper’ referred to the letter in its entirety, not what the original meant to say. To clarify the meaning, we stated that part of the verse this way, ‘I myself by my hand am writing to you the last talk that is on this paper here.’ Then everyone understood that Paul was only writing the last little bit with his own hand.”