love (Luang)

The various Greek terms that are translated as “love” in English can be translated with various terms in Luang with different shades of meaning.

For Acts 7:46 and Titus 1:8, ralamni nala (“insides take”). “This term has the sense of finding favor with or being pleased by someone and is used for love between a man and a woman, between a parent and a much-loved child. It is also used of God’s being especially pleased with a human, such as he was with Noah and Moses. It can refer to loving objects good or bad, and to loving the world. The focus here is on some pleasing characteristic of the person or thing loved.”

For Mark 6:34, nmawaldoinla (“insides turn completely over”). “Love mixed with pity and distress. One can feel this for oneself as well as for others. Jesus felt this way when he looked at the multitudes who were like sheep without a shepherd.”

For Mark 1:11, lilili (“take care of, honor”). “Loving with special care, attention, and honor. This is the term often used for loving a dear child and God’s loving his Son.”

For 1 Thess. 2:8 and Mark 1:11, siayni (“love, pity”). “Affection for children or for those in difficult circumstances.”

For Titus 3:4 and 1 Thess. 1:2-3, ralamni kalwieda-paitiota (“good insides”). The focus of this term is the goodness of the one who loves. There is absolutely no focus whatsoever on the one loved, who may even be despicable. This term is often used for God’s love and mercy toward us especially in such verses as ‘God loved us, not because of what we have done, but because of his great mercy.'”

For 1 Thess. 1:4 and 2 Tim. 4:10, napalniana (“insides face”). “The sense of this term is very close to that of the sense of ‘ralamni nalal’ for ‘love’. It indicates something about the thing or person loved that pleases the one loving. However, the sense ‘ralamni nalal’ refers generally to love as an outcome of the loved one’s pleasing characteristics, while this term, when it collocates with human beings, is used more for love that results from the loved one’s loving actions. It is not used for the love between a man and a woman.”

The following are service-related terms for “love.” “There are several different words for love where the focus is on the act produced by love, not on the goodness of the one loving, the one being loved, or any emotion of affection or pity. These words are differentiated by the particular service given and are mainly used in verses where people are commanded to love one another.”

For 2 Thess. 1:3 and 1 Tim. 6:18, ra’a-palu (“love-widow”). “This term’s focus is on love displayed by giving to one another financially.”

For 1 Thess. 3:12, nhimpai-nmanatu (“hold out hands, place carefully”). This term’s focus is more on daily practical care of someone.

For Titus 2:2 and 1 Tim. 6:11, hima-re’a (“hold out hands”). “This term’s focus is on helping someone with their work.”

For 1 Thess. 4:9, mpiehwa-mliakta kalwiedweda (“good/careful actions”). “This term’s focus is on the proper treatment of others on meeting them. It implies being hospitable, polite, respecting.”

Source: Kathy Taber in Notes on Translation 1/1999, p. 9-16.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (1Thess. 3:12)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). The inclusive “we” specifically includes the addressee (“you and I and possibly others”), while the exclusive “we” specifically excludes the addressee (“he/she/they and I, but not you”). This grammatical distinction is called “clusivity.” While Semitic languages such as Hebrew or most Indo-European languages such as Greek or English do not make that distinction, translators of languages with that distinction have to make a choice every time they encounter “we” or a form thereof (in English: “we,” “our,” or “us”).

For this verse, translators typically select the exclusive form (excluding the addressee).

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.

In Fijian the trial exclusive form “neitou” (“of me and of them two”) is used instead. This choice is understandable in view of the introduction found in both letters to the Thessalonians, where the writer Paul indicates clearly that the letters were co-authored by two other colleagues, Silas and Timothy, hence the use of a pronoun referring to three people (“Paul, Silas and Timothy”).

Source: Joseph Hong in The Bible Translator 1994, p. 419ff.

complete verse (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

Following are a number of back-translations of 1 Thessalonians 3:12:

  • Uma: “We request that your love be added-to, with the result that you really love one another and love all people, like our love for you.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “And may your love for each other increase and (may) you also love all people, as we (excl.) love you.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “May the Lord see to it that your love for each one of you and all people might increase, just like our love for you is very strong.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “May our Lord also be adding to your love for your fellows and for all people so that it will become-like our (excl.) large love for you.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “And we (excl.) also pray that the Lord will really all the more cause to increase your valuing of your siblings in believing and your valuing also of your other fellowmen, like our (excl.) valuing of you.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “May our Lord cause that you increasingly know how to love each other and also those who are not believers, just like we love you.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

Lord

The Hebrew adonai in the Old Testament typically refers to God. The shorter adon (and in two cases in the book of Daniel the Aramaic mare) is also used to refer to God but more often for concepts like “master,” “owner,” etc. In English Bible translations all of those are translated with “Lord” if they refer to God.

In English Old Testament translations, as in Old Testament translations in many other languages, the use of Lord (or an equivalent term in other languages) is not to be confused with Lord (or the equivalent term with a different typographical display for other languages). While the former translates adonai, adon and mare, the latter is a translation for the tetragrammaton (YHWH) or the Name of God. See tetragrammaton (YHWH) and the article by Andy Warren-Rothlin in Noss / Houser, p. 618ff. for more information.

In the New Testament, the Greek term kurios has at least four different kinds of use:

  • referring to “God,” especially in Old Testament quotations,
  • meaning “master” or “owner,” especially in parables, etc.,
  • as a form of address (see for instance John 4:11: “Sir, you have no bucket”),
  • or, most often, referring to Jesus

In the first and fourth case, it is also translated as “Lord” in English.

Most languages naturally don’t have one word that covers all these meanings. According to Bratcher / Nida, “the alternatives are usually (1) a term which is an honorific title of respect for a high-ranking person and (2) a word meaning ‘boss’, ‘master’, or ‘chief.’ (…) and on the whole it has generally seemed better to employ a word of the second category, in order to emphasize the immediate personal relationship, and then by context to build into the word the prestigeful character, since its very association with Jesus Christ will tend to accomplish this purpose.”

When looking at the following list of back-translations of the terms that translators in the different languages have used for both kurios and adonai to refer to God and Jesus respectively, it might be helpful for English readers to recall the etymology of the English “Lord.” While this term might have gained an exalted meaning in the understanding of many, it actually comes from hlaford or “loaf-ward,” referring to the lord of the castle who was the keeper of the bread (source: Rosin 1956, p. 121).

Following are some of the solutions that don’t rely on a different typographical display (see above):

  • Navajo: “the one who has charge”
  • Mossi: “the one who has the head” (the leader)
  • Uduk: “chief”
  • Guerrero Amuzgo: “the one who commands”
  • Kpelle: “person-owner” (a term which may be applied to a chief)
  • Central Pame: “the one who owns us” (or “commands us”)
  • Piro: “the big one” (used commonly of one in authority)
  • San Blas Kuna: “the great one over all” (source for this and above: Bratcher / Nida)
  • Guhu-Samane: Soopara (“our Supervisor”) (source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation July, 1967, p. 5ff.)
  • Balinese: “Venerated-one” (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • Yanesha’: “one who carries us” (source: Nida 1952, p. 159)
  • Northern Emberá: Dadjirã Boro (“our Head”)
  • Rarotongan: Atu (“master or owner of a property”)
  • Gilbertese: Uea (“a person of high status invested with authority to rule the people”)
  • Rotuman: Gagaja (“village chief”)
  • Samoan: Ali’i (“an important word in the native culture, it derives from the Samoan understanding of lordship based on the local traditions”)
  • Tahitian: Fatu (“owner,” “master”)
  • Tuvalu: Te Aliki (“chief”)
  • Fijian: Liuliu (“leader”) (source for this and six above: Joseph Hong in The Bible Translator 1994, p. 329ff.)
  • Bacama: Həmə miye: “owner of people” (source: David Frank in this blog post)
  • Hopi: “Controller” (source: Walls 2000, p. 139)
  • Ghomala’: Cyəpɔ (“he who is above everyone,” consisting of the verb cyə — to surpass or go beyond — and — referring to people. No human can claim this attribute, no matter what his or her social status or prestige.” (Source: Michel Kenmogne in Theologizing in Context: An Example from the Study of a Ghomala’ Christian Hymn)
  • Binumarien: Karaambaia: “fight-leader” (Source: Oates 1995, p. 255)
  • Warlpiri: Warlaljamarri (owner or possessor of something — for more information tap or click here)

    We have come to rely on another term which emphasizes God’s essential nature as YHWH, namely jukurrarnu (see tetragrammaton (YHWH)). This word is built on the same root jukurr– as is jukurrpa, ‘dreaming.’ Its basic meaning is ‘timelessness’ and it is used to describe physical features of the land which are viewed as always being there. Some speakers view jukurrarnu in terms of ‘history.’ In all Genesis references to YHWH we have used Kaatu Jukurrarnu. In all Mark passages where kurios refers to God and not specifically to Christ we have also used Kaatu Jukurrarnu.

    New Testament references to Christ as kurios are handled differently. At one stage we experimented with the term Watirirririrri which refers to a ceremonial boss of highest rank who has the authority to instigate ceremonies. While adequately conveying the sense of Christ’s authority, there remained potential negative connotations relating to Warlpiri ceremonial life of which we might be unaware.

    Here it is that the Holy Spirit led us to make a chance discovery. Transcribing the personal testimony of the local Warlpiri pastor, I noticed that he described how ‘my Warlaljamarri called and embraced me (to the faith)’. Warlaljamarri is based on the root warlalja which means variously ‘family, possessions, belongingness’. A warlaljamarri is the ‘owner’ or ‘possessor’ of something. While previously being aware of the ‘ownership’ aspect of warlaljamarri, this was the first time I had heard it applied spontaneously and naturally in a fashion which did justice to the entire concept of ‘Lordship’. Thus references to Christ as kurios are now being handled by Warlaljamarri.” (Source: Stephen Swartz, The Bible Translator 1985, p. 415ff.)

  • Mairasi: Onggoao Nem (“Throated One” — “Leader,” “Elder”) or Enggavot Nan (“Above-One”) (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Obolo: Okaan̄-ene (“Owner of person(s)”) (source: Enene Enene)
  • Angami Naga: Niepu (“master,” “owner”)
  • Lotha Naga: Opvui (“owner of house / field / cattle”) — since both “Lord” and YHWH are translated as Opvui there is an understanding that “Opvui Jesus is the same as the Opvui of the Old Testament”
  • Ao Naga: Kibuba (“human master,” “teacher,” “owner of property,” etc.) (source for this and two above: Nitoy Achumi in The Bible Translator 1992 p. 438ff.)
  • Seediq: Tholang, loan word from Min Nan Chinese (the majority language in Taiwan) thâu-lâng (頭儂): “Master” (source: Covell 1998, p. 248)
  • Thai: phra’ phu pen cao (พระผู้เป็นเจ้า) (divine person who is lord) or ong(kh) cao nay (องค์เจ้านาย) (<divine classifier>-lord-boss) (source: Stephen Pattemore)
  • Arabic often uses different terms for adonai or kurios referring to God (al-rabb الرب) and kurios referring to Jesus (al-sayyid الـسـيـد). Al-rabb is also the term traditionally used in Arabic Christian-idiom translations for YHWH, and al-sayyid is an honorary term, similar to English “lord” or “sir” (source: Andy Warren-Rothlin).
  • Tamil also uses different terms for adonai/kurios when referring to God and kurios when referring to Jesus. The former is Karttar கர்த்தர், a Sanskrit-derived term with the original meaning of “creator,” and the latter in Āṇṭavar ஆண்டவர், a Tamil term originally meaning “govern” or “reign” (source: Natarajan Subramani).
  • Burunge: Looimoo: “owner who owns everything” (in the Burunge Bible translation, this term is only used as a reference to Jesus and was originally used to refer to the traditional highest deity — source: Michael Endl in Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 48)
  • Aguacateco: Ajcaw ske’j: “the one to whom we belong and who is above us” (source: Rita Peterson in Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 49)
  • Konkomba: Tidindaan: “He who is the owner of the land and reigns over the people” (source: Lidorio 2007, p. 66)

See also Father / Lord.