The term that is transliterated as “Daniel” in English is translated in American Sign Language with the sign for the letter D and for “lion,” referring to the story in Daniel 6. (Source: RuthAnna Spooner, Ron Lawer)
Some languages do not have a concept of kingship and therefore no immediate equivalent for the Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin that is translated as “king” in English. Here are some (back-) translations:
Faye Edgerton retells how the term in Navajo was determined:
“[This term was] easily expressed in the language of Biblical culture, which had kings and noblemen with their brilliant trappings and their position of honor and praise. But leadership among the Navajos is not accompanied by any such titles or distinctions of dress. Those most respected, especially in earlier days, were their headmen, who were the leaders in raids, and the shaman, who was able to serve the people by appealing for them to the gods, or by exorcising evil spirits. Neither of these made any outward show. Neither held his position by political intrigue or heredity. If the headman failed consistently in raids, he was superceded by a better warrior. If the shaman failed many times in his healing ceremonies, it was considered that he was making mistakes in the chants, or had lost favor with the gods, and another was sought. The term Navajos use for headman is derived from a verb meaning ‘to move the head from side to side as in making an oration.’ The headman must be a good orator, able to move the people to go to war, or to follow him in any important decision. This word is naat’áanii which now means ‘one who rules or bosses.’ It is employed now for a foreman or boss of any kind of labor, as well as for the chairman of the tribal council. So in order to show that the king is not just a common boss but the highest ruler, the word ‘aláahgo, which expresses the superlative degree, was put before naat’áanii, and so ‘aláahgo naat’áanii ‘anyone-more-than-being around-he-moves-his-head-the-one-who’ means ‘the highest ruler.’ Naat’áanii was used for governor as the context usually shows that the person was a ruler of a country or associated with kings.”
Many languages use a “body part tally system” where body parts function as numerals (see body part tally systems with a description). One such language is Angguruk Yali which uses a system that ends at the number 27. To circumvent this limitation, the Angguruk Yali translators adopted a strategy where a large number is first indicated with an approximation via the traditional system, followed by the exact number according to Arabic numerals. For example, where in 2 Samuel 6:1 it says “thirty thousand” in the English translation, the Angguruk Yali says teng-teng angge 30.000 or “so many rounds [following the body part tally system] 30,000,” likewise, in Acts 27:37 where the number “two hundred seventy-six” is used, the Angguruk Yali translation says teng-teng angge 276 or “so many rounds 276,” or in John 6:10 teng-teng angge 5.000 for “five thousand.”
This strategy is used in all the verses referenced here.
Presidents: it will be advisable in many languages to begin a new sentence here in order to simplify the structure and make the meaning clearer. The one hundred and twenty satraps, or “governors” (Good News Translation), were in turn managed or presided over by three higher officers, one of whom was Daniel. The equivalent for the word presidents may not be suitable in many languages, because it would be unthinkable that there could be more than one president in the country. This term has been translated “chief ministers” by Revised English Bible. These three, in turn, were answerable to the king. Another way of wording this is “He also appointed three higher officials to watch over the work of these governors … and Daniel was one of these three,” placing the statement about Daniel at the very end of the verse.
Suffer no loss: the idea here is that the three overseers would guarantee the supervision of the king’s affairs so that he would not have to worry. In some languages it may be possible to say something similar to the New Jerusalem Bible rendering, “in order that the king not be troubled.” Revised English Bible, however, translates “so that the king’s interests might not suffer.”
Quoted with permission from Péter-Contesse, René & Ellington, John. A Handbook on Daniel. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1994. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .