bear (animal)

The Hebrew that is translated as “bear” in English is translated in Mungaka as “leopard” since bears are not known in that culture (see also wolf) (source: Nama 1990).

In Vidunda and Kutu it is translated as “lion” and in Kwere as “cheetah” (in Proverbs 17:12). (Source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

Michel Kenmogne comments on this and comparable translations (in Noss 2007, p. 378 ff.): “Some exegetical solutions adopted by missionary translations may have been acceptable during that time frame, but weighed against today’s translation theory and procedures, they appear quite outdated and even questionable. For example, Atangana Nama approvingly mentions the translation into Mungaka of terms like ‘deer’ as ‘leopard’, ‘camel’ as ‘elephant’, and ‘wheat’ as ‘maize,’ where the target language has no direct equivalent to the source text. These pre-Nida translation options, now known as adaptations, would be declared unacceptable in modern practice, since they misrepresent the historico-zoological and agricultural realities in the Bible. Nowadays it is considered better to give a generalized term, like ‘grain,’ and where necessary specify ‘a grain called wheat,’ than to give an incorrect equivalence. Unknown animals such as bears, can be called ‘fierce animals,’ especially if the reference is a non-historical context.”