The Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek that is typically translated in English as “joy” or “happiness” is translated in the Hausa Common Language Ajami Bible idiomatically as farin ciki or “white stomach.” In some cases, such as in Genesis 29:11, it is also added for emphatic purposes.
The Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek that are translated as “wine” in English is translated into Pass Valley Yali as “grape juice pressed long ago (= fermented)” or “strong water” (source: Daud Soesilo). In Guhu-Samane it is also translated as “strong water” (source: Ernest L. Richert in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff. ), in Nyongar as “liquor” (verbatim: “strong water”) (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang), in Hausa as ruwan inabi or “water of grapes” (with no indication whether it’s alcoholic or not — source: Mark A. Gaddis), or in Papantla Totonac and Coyutla Totonac as “a drink like Pulque” (for “Pulque,” see here ) (source: Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1971, p. 169ff. ).
In Swahili, Bible translations try to avoid local words for alcoholic drinks, because “drinking of any alcohol at all was one of the sins most denounced by early missionaries. Hence translators are uncomfortable by the occurrences of wine in the Bible. Some of the established churches which use wine prefer to see church wine as holy, and would not refer to it by the local names used for alcoholic drinks. Instead church wine is often referred to by terms borrowed from other languages, divai (from German, der Wein) or vini/mvinyo (from ltalian/Latin vino/vinum). Several translations done by Protestants have adapted the Swahili divai for ‘wine,’ while those done by Catholics use vini or mvinyo.” (Source: Rachel Konyoro in The Bible Translator 1985, p. 221ff. )
The Swahili divai was in turn borrowed by Sabaot and was turned into tifaayiik and is used as such in the Bible. Kupsabiny, on the other hand, borrowed mvinyo from Swahili and turned it into Finyonik. (Source: Iver Larsen)
In Nyamwezi, two terms are used. Malwa ga muzabibu is a kind of alcohol that people specifically use to get drunk (such as in Genesis 9:21) and ki’neneko is used for a wine made from grapes (source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext).
In some Hindi translations (such as the Common Language version, publ. 2015 ), one term (dākharasa दाखरस — grape juice) is used when that particular drink is in the focus (such as in John 2) and another term (madirā मदिरा — “alcohol” or “liquor”) when drunkenness is in the focus (such as in Eph. 5:18).
In Mandarin Chinese, the generic term jiǔ (酒) or “alcohol” is typically used. (Source: Zetzsche)
Click or tap here to see a short video clip about wine in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)
The Greek and Hebrew that is translated with “mule” in English is translated in Swahili with nyumbu which also is a homonym for “wildebeest,” potentially causing confusion.
In Kutu it is translated with “big donkey” because there is no other adequate term in Kutu. (Source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)
In the Hausa Common Language Ajami Bible it is translated jakin-doki or “donkey-horse,” since mules are also not known in Nigeria. (Source: Andy Warren-Rothlin)
“Sheep are known throughout most of the world, even though, as in Central Africa, they are a far cry from the fleecy wool-producing animals of colder climates. Where such animals are known, even by seemingly strange names, e.g. ‘cotton deer’ (Yucateco) or ‘woolly goat’ (Inupiaq), such names should be used. In some instances, one may wish to borrow a name and use a classifier, e.g. ‘an animal called sheep’. In still other instances translators have used ‘animal which produces wool’, for though people are not acquainted with the animals they are familiar with wool.” (Source: Bratcher / Nida)
Note that the often-alleged Inuktitut translation of “sheep” with “seal” is an urban myth (source Nida 1947, p. 136).
See also lamb.
The different Hebrew and Greek terms that are translated as “(olive) oil” and “(animal) fat” in English are translated in Kwere with only one term: mavuta. (Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)