nose ring

The Hebrew that is translated in English as “nose ring” is translated in Newari as “ear ring.” (Source: Newari Back Translation)

While it’s common for women in Nepal to wear nose rings, in Newar culture this is associated with slave culture, going back to the the 14th century and Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq’sd conquest of Kathmandu and the subsequent enslaving of its people and forced wearing of nose rings for all women to signify his dominance over his new subjects. (See here .)

daughter (Japanese honorifics)

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way to do this is through the usage of appropriate suffix title referred to as keishō (敬称) as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017 by either using -san or –sama with the latter being the more formal title.

In most of these verses, the Hebrew that is translated as “daughter” in English is translated in the Shinkaiyaku Bible as musume-san (娘さん), combining the word for “daughter” (musume) and the suffix title –san.

In three verses (Job 1:18, Mark 5:35, Luke 8:49), o-jyō-san (お嬢さん) is used. O-jyō-san has a slight higher register than musume-san and tends to also be used for young and unmarried girls.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

See also son (Japanese honorifics).

formal 2nd person pronoun (Spanish)

Like many languages (but unlike Greek or Hebrew or English), Spanish uses a formal vs. informal second-person pronoun (a familiar vs. a respectful “you”). Spanish Bibles all use only the informal second-person pronoun (), with the exception of Dios Habla Hoy (third edition: 1996) which also uses the formal pronoun (usted). In the referenced verses, the formal form is used.

Sources and for more information: P. Ellingworth in The Bible Translator 2002, p. 143ff. and R. Ross in The Bible Translator 1993, p. 217ff.

See also the use of the formal vs. the informal pronoun in the Gospels in Tuvan.

complete verse (Genesis 24:47)

Following are a number of back-translations as well as a sample translation for translators of Genesis 24:47:

  • Newari: “‘I asked her — ‘Whose daughter are you?’ ‘” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Hiligaynon: “After that, I asked her whose child she (was). She replied, ‘(The child) of Betuel the son of Nahor and Milca.’ Then I put a ring on her nose and put- bracelets -on her arms.” (Source: Hiligaynon Back Translation)
  • English: “Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, the son of Nahor and his wife, Milcah.’ I had a ring and bracelets with me, and I put the ring in her nose and put the bracelets on her arms.” (Source: Translation for Translators)

Translation commentary on Genesis 24:47

See verse 23. The servant is also careful not to repeat his inquiring about hospitality from Rebekah’s family. See the translation of her reply concerning her family line in verse 24.

Only here in this verse do we read that the servant placed the ring and bracelets on Rebekah. See suggestions made in verse 22.

Quoted with permission from Reyburn, William D. and Fry, Euan McG. A Handbook on Genesis. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1997. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .