wounds

The Greek that is translated in English as “wounds” is translated into Folopa as “nopulu daayale tiki”: “where the clubs stood” (= wounds caused by clubs).

Translator Neil Anderson tells the story on how this was decided:

I knew no word for wounds and I had a difficult time getting one. I said, “The word is for things like sores, but they’re not sores; it’s like injuries, but not accidental.”

They were trying to grasp it. “Read it again,” they said. So I read it again, explaining as I went.

“These thieves had jumped him,” I said, “and he’s down, and now he’s lying there with these . . . problems . . . these results of what was perpetrated upon him. But what’s the word?”

“What did they use on him?”

“I don’t know what they used on him. What does it matter?”

“We have to know what they used on him or we can’t tell you the word.”

“Why not?”

“Because it all depends. If he was speared we say, ‘where the spear stood;’ if he was shot with an arrow we say, where the arrow stood;’ if he was axed we say, ‘where the axe stood.’ You tell us what they used on him and well tell you how to say it.”

Apparently there was no generic word for “wounds” and this was the best we were going to do. The only trouble was, Scripture didn’t tell how it happened. In the original telling, it wasn’t important.

So we tried to figure it out.

“Let’s say it was a spear,” I said.

“Okay,” the old ones said, the ones with the most experience with this kind of thing, “did the man live?”

“Yes, he lived,” I said.

“Then it wasn’t a spear. If it was a spear he would have most likely died.”

“Maybe it was an arrow,” I offered.

“No, if it had been by arrows they would have pulled them out. Does it say anything about pulling arrows out?”

“No. What about a dagger?”

“No,” they said, “if it had been a dagger he probably would have never recovered either.”

“Then what about an ax?”

“No way. If they had axed him that would have been the end of him right then!”

“Well then, maybe they just beat him up with their hands,” I said.

“No,” they protested, “when you do that the person may be covered with lumps and bumps but there’s nothing open, nothing for the Samaritan to pour medicine into.”

“Then you tell me,” I said.

“Well, he was lying there on the road, half dead, bleeding but still alive. He must have been beaten with clubs.” With general agreement on that I wrote it down: nopulu daayale tiki “where the clubs stood.” We were off and moving again.

(Source: Anderson / Moore 2006, p. 165ff.)