years (age)

In Aekyom, years are counted as “turtles” (ambum).

Norm Mundhenk tells this story:

“Recently I was checking some New Testament material in the Aekyom language of western Papua New Guinea. It seemed relatively clear until suddenly we came to a passage that started, ‘When Jesus had 12 turtles, …’ Surely I had misunderstood what they said.
“‘Did you say that Jesus had 12 turtles?’
“‘Let us explain! Around here there is a certain time every year when river turtles come up on the banks and lay their eggs. Because this is so regular, it can be used as a way of counting years. Someone’s age is said to be how many turtles that person has. So when we say that Jesus had 12 turtles, we mean that Jesus was 12 years old.’
“It was of course the familiar story of Jesus’ trip with his parents to Jerusalem. And certainly, as we all know, Jesus did indeed have 12 turtles at that time!”

In Tok Pisin, krismas (derived from “christmas”) is taken as the fixed annual marker, so Jesus had 12 “christmases” (Jisas i gat 12-pela krismas pinis) or Abram (in Gen. 12:4) had 75 (Abram i gat 75 krismas) (source: Norm Mundhenk). In Nyongar it is biroka kadak or “summers had” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

See also advanced in years.

complete verse (Genesis 35:28)

Following are a number of back-translations as well as a sample translation for translators of Genesis 35:28:

  • Newari: “When Isaac was 180 years old, he died.” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Hiligaynon: “Isaac lived 180 years.” (Source: Hiligaynon Back Translation)
  • English: “Isaac lived until he was 180 years old.” (Source: Translation for Translators)

Translation commentary on Genesis 35:28

Now the days of Isaac were a hundred and eighty years: in chapter 27 Isaac was pictured as an old man even before Jacob left for Haran. According to 25.26 Isaac was sixty years old when Jacob and Esau were born, and in 26.34 he would have been one hundred when Esau married at age forty.

In Good News Translation and some other versions, this sentence is joined to the next verse; for example, “Isaac was one hundred and eighty years old when he breathed his last” (New Jerusalem Bible), “Isaac was a very old man, and when he reached a hundred and eighty years he died.”

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 .