The Greek that is translated into English as “anchor” in English is, due to non-existing nautical language, rendered as kayo’ barko (“an instrument that keeps the boat from drifting”) in Chol (source: Steven 1979, p. 76), “iron hooks” (“that make the boat stop”) in Isthmus Mixe, “irons called ‘anchors’ with ropes” in Teutila Cuicatec (source for this and above: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.), “weights, and thus they were able to make the boat stand” in Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac (source: Larson 1998, p. 99), “an iron attached to a rope attached to the boat so that it may not drift away” in Lalana Chinantec (source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965, p. 2ff.), “a thing that makes the water vehicle stand still” in Kamwe (source: Roger Mohrlang in here), “the metal piece that was in the water that detained the boat” in Eastern Highland Otomi (source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.), “iron crab” in Bawm Chin (source: David Clark), and “big canoe stopping metal” in Kouya.

Eddie Arthur tells the story of the translation into Kouya: “A slightly more prosaic example comes from Paul’s sea voyages in the Book of Acts. In Acts 27, when Paul’s ship was facing a huge storm, there are several references to throwing out the anchor to save the ship. Now the Kouya live in a tropical rain-forest and have no vessels larger than dug-out canoes used for fishing on rivers. The idea of an anchor was entirely foreign to them. However, it was relatively easy to devise a descriptive term along the lines of ‘boat stopping metal’ that captured the essential nature of the concept. This was fine when we were translating the word anchor in its literal sense. However, in Hebrews 6:19 we read that hope is an anchor for our souls. It would clearly make no sense to use ‘boat stopping metal’ at this point as the concept would simply not have any meaning. So in this verse we said that faith was like the foundation which keeps a house secure. One group working in the Sahel region of West Africa spoke of faith being like a tent peg which keeps a tent firm against the wind. I hope you can see the way in which these two translations capture the essence of the image in the Hebrews verse while being more appropriate to the culture.”

Click or tap here to see a short video clip showing an anchor in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)

See also ship / boat, rudder, and anchor (figurative).

complete verse (Acts 27:13)

Following are a number of back-translations of Acts 27:13:

  • Uma: “At that time the wind from the south was blowing well. That’s why the workers of the ship said/thought that they would be able to continue their journey with goodness/safety. So they raised the iron that restrains the ship (called the anchor), and they continue to go by the edge of the island of Kreta.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “So-then when the south wind blew not so strong, the people thought-mistakenly it was good to sail. So they pulled the anchor up and we (excl.) sailed following the coastline of that island of Kerete.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Then it began to blow, however not strong, coming from the direction of Libya. And they supposed that what they decided would come to pass. Therefore they pulled up the weights of the ship, and we did not go very far away from the shore of the island of Crete.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “When that was so, a breeze arrived from the south, and they said that it was now possible. So they pulled to raise-up (lit. cause-to-climb-up) the hooked metal that caused-the ship -to-stop, and then we (excl.) set-out keeping-to-the-edge along Creta.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Well, when they observed that the wind had changed, being now like a salatan (type or favorable wind), and it wasn’t really strong, they became happy for they thought-mistakenly that (we) could now accomplish-the-plan. Therefore they pulled up the anchor and sailed. Our sailing was just going along close to the coast of Creta.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)