“Sheep are known throughout most of the world, even though, as in Central Africa, they are a far cry from the fleecy wool-producing animals of colder climates. Where such animals are known, even by seemingly strange names, e.g. ‘cotton deer’ (Yucateco) or ‘woolly goat’ (Inupiaq), such names should be used. In some instances, one may wish to borrow a name and use a classifier, e.g. ‘an animal called sheep’. In still other instances translators have used ‘animal which produces wool’, for though people are not acquainted with the animals they are familiar with wool.” (Source: Bratcher / Nida)

In Dëne Súline, it is usually translated as “an evil little caribou.” To avoid the negative connotation, a loan word from the neighboring South Slavey was used. (Source: NCAM, p. 70)

Note that the often-alleged Inuktitut translation of “sheep” with “seal” is an urban myth (source Nida 1947, p. 136).

See also lamb.

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 29:6)

Following are a number of back-translations as well as a sample translation for translators of Genesis 29:6:

  • Newari: “Again Jacob asked them — ‘Is he well?'” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Hiligaynon: “Jacob continued to ask, ‘So, how is he?’ They replied, ‘(He) is well actually/as-a-matter-of-fact. Look, there is his child Raquel coming here with the sheep.'” (Source: Hiligaynon Back Translation)
  • English: “Jacob asked them, ‘Is Laban well?’ They replied, ‘Yes, he is well. Look! Here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep!'” (Source: Translation for Translators)

Translation commentary on Genesis 29:6

In verse 6 Jacob asks a third question: Is it well with him? This question is literally “[Is] shalom to him?” Shalom here has the sense of well-being or good health. Languages differ greatly in the way they express inquiries concerning a third person’s well-being; for example, “Does his heart rest?” “Does his liver sit quietly?” “Is coolness with his innermost?” The local men give a one-word reply, “Shalom,” meaning that he is well.

During this conversation the approach of Rachel, Laban’s daughter, causes the men to call Jacob’s attention to her: and see, Rachel his daughter is coming. See translates the Hebrew hinneh, which calls Jacob’s attention to this event. Good News Translation and others say “Look.” We may also say in English, for example, “There is Rachel.” Von Rad and others suggest that the men point out Rachel to Jacob so that he will direct his questions to her and not bother them any further.

Coming with the sheep must often be expressed as “bringing the sheep.” In sheep-raising cultures the appropriate term should be used, such as leading or driving the sheep. The word for sheep is the same as in Gen 29.2.

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 .