footstool

The Hebrew, Latin and Greek that is typically translated as “footstool” in English is translated as “(put your enemies) underneath your feet like grass” in Enxet. (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

In Upper Guinea Crioulo it is “(put your enemies) under your feet so you can rest your feet on them.” (Source: David Frank in this blog post )

In Whitesands is is “door-cloth.” “This would be that rag at the door that you use to wipe your feet after walking in the dirt or mud. Similar to a doormat. The point of comparison would be that a door rag is so low in value/position compared to the one using it.” (Source: Greg Carlson)

he who, whoever

The Greek that is typically translated with a generic expressions such as “he who,” “whoever,” or “if anyone” in English is translated with the plural form (“they”) in Daga. “A literal translation of these conveys the idea that one specific unnamed individual is being dis cussed. Thus, for instance, in John 5:24 ‘he who hears my word and believes in him who sent me has eternal life’ meant in Daga that there was one fortunate individual to whom it applied.”

See also love your neighbor as yourself.

complete verse (James 2:3)

Following are a number of back-translations of James 2:3:

  • Uma: “If we give more honor to the person whose clothes are good, and we say to him: ‘Come, let’s sit in this good seat,’ yet to the poor person we say: ‘You (sing.) stand over there,’ or we say to him: ‘You (sing.) sit there on the floor,'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “If you treat-according-to-custom/honor the person with good clothes more than the one who does not have good clothes and you say to him, ‘Sir, sit here in this nice seat,’ but to the poor person you say, ‘Just stand there in that place,’ or, ‘Sit here on the floor by my feet,'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “You show respect to the one whose clothing is good and you say, ‘You be here on this good seat.’ However, that poor person, by contrast, you just say to him, ‘Stand here,’ or, ‘You just sit here on the floor near my chair.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “For-example, if a rich-person wearing-a-ring made-of-gold and wearing-nice -clothes goes to your church and you say to him, ‘Come here so you (sing.) can sit in this nice chair.’ And if a poor-person also arrives wearing-extensively-patched -clothes, but in-contrast you say to him, ‘How-about-if (lit. Even-if) you (sing.) stand there or sit there on the floor,'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Now your welcoming/treatment of those two is not the same. For only that one with the fancy clothes is welcomed/treated well by you, as you say to him, ‘Friend, you sit here in this seat.’ As for that has-not, you insult/belittle him by saying to him, ‘You just stand over there,’ or ‘Only on the floor is where you are to sit.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “And then you are respectful to the man with good clothes and say: ‘Sit here in the good seat.’ But to the poor man you say: ‘You stand there, or sit here on the ground.'” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

sit (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 (or a lack) of an honorific prefix as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017.

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated as “sit” in English is translated in the Shinkaiyaku Bible as o-suwari (お座り), combining “sit” (suwari) with the respectful prefix o-.

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

Translation commentary on James 2:3

You pay attention to the one …: the verb pay attention in Greek, meaning literally “to look upon” or “to direct one’s attention to,” is used only here and in Luke 1.48 and 9.38. In this context it is used in the sense of “to look upon with favor” and therefore “pay special attention to” (New American Standard Bible, Barclay, Revised English Bible) or “show more respect to” (Good News Translation). The wealthy man who wears the fine clothing is singled out for special treatment. The main verbs of this verse are all in the plural, agreeing with the opening address of verse 1, “My brethren.” James is obviously concerned to give a general warning to his readers against partiality. Presumably it is the one who has some kind of authority in the congregation who is directing the visitors. In some languages it may be desirable in this kind of situation to use the singular “you” rather than the plural.

Have a seat here, please: the words to the visitors, in both cases, are introduced by a pronoun in an emphatic position—“You sit here … You stand there.” The wealthy Christian is directed to his place with a polite clause that can be taken as meaning “Do sit here, if you will” or “Please take this seat” (New English Bible, Revised English Bible) as a gesture of courtesy. However, the Greek adverb rendered please here can be taken as modifying seat, as a number of translations have done; for example, “You sit here in a good place” (New American Standard Bible), “Sit here; this is a good place!” (Goodspeed), “Have this best seat here” (Good News Translation), or even “Sit in this place of honor here.” Here probably is an invitation to take the best seat in the meeting, possibly the seat of honor referred to in Matt 23.6. This latter interpretation is the most likely one and is recommended by this Handbook. In a number of languages it will be more natural to introduce the verse with “If” as Good News Translation has done, but in others it will be better style to begin the verse in a similar way to Contemporary English Version: “You must not give the best seat….” Also in some languages it will be more natural style to use direct speech as in the Greek. A number of modern translations have done this (compare Revised Standard Version, Good News Translation). But in other languages indirect speech will be quite natural style; for example, “If you show more respect to the well-dressed man by giving him the best seat….”

The treatment of the poor man by contrast is rather rude; he is told to Stand there or Sit at my feet. We encounter two problems here; one is a textual problem and the other a problem of interpreting the directions given to the poor visitor. The textual problem has to do with several alternative forms of the Greek text. It may be either “you stand there, or sit here under my footstool,” or “you stand, or sit there under my footstool,” or as adopted by the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament and accepted by the majority of translations, “You stand there, or sit under my footstool.” The problem in interpretation is whether to take the words of direction as giving the poor visitor a choice of two possible places, or as directing him to one place or the other. If we follow the former, we may render it as “You can stand over there if you like, or else sit on the floor” (New Jerusalem Bible), or “You stand over there, or if you must sit, sit on the floor by my feet” (Phillips). This is essentially what New English Bible, Revised English Bible, and Good News Translation have done also. If on the other hand we favor the second interpretation, we may render it as “ ‘Stand there!’ or, ‘Squat on the floor at my feet!’ ” (Barclay). This is the option favored by other translations like Revised Standard Version, New Revised Standard Version, New American Bible. On the whole the first option seems more likely. For comments on the translation of “rich” and “poor” see 1.9-10.

The imperative statement “Sit under my footstool” may be taken to mean “Sit on the floor by my footstool” (New English Bible, Revised English Bible), or more generally “Sit here on the floor by my feet” (Good News Translation). We cannot fail to see the sharp contrast in the treatment; one person is conducted to a high and comfortable seat, possibly even with a footstool on which to rest his feet; and the other is unceremoniously told to squat on the floor. The word my in my feet shows that the poor visitor is not only treated worse than the rich man, but worse even than the host himself. The host has at least a seat for himself.

In cultures where chairs or stools are not used at all, but people always sit on the floor, it will be best for translators to make some adjustments and indicate that the rich man is invited to “sit in the place of honor.” In some instances that may be next to the host or leader of the meeting. The poor man is asked to “stand to the side over there,” meaning out of the way, or “sit down here,” indicating a place of less honor. In some languages certain honorific particles indicating respect will be used for the rich man, while the commands to the poor man will be sharp, lacking polite address.

The following alternative translation models for this verse may be used:
• If you show more respect to the well-dressed man and say to him, “Please sit in this place of honor here,” but say to the poor man, “You must stand over there, or sit here on the floor by my feet.”
• You must not give the best [or, honored] seat to the well-dressed man and tell the poor man to stand to the side, or tell him to sit on the floor.

Quoted with permission from Loh, I-Jin and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on The Letter from James. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1997. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

formal second person plural pronoun

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 Japanese show different degree of politeness is through the choice of a formal plural suffix to the second person pronoun (“you” and its various forms) as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017.

In these verses, anata-gata (あなたがた) is used, combining the second person pronoun anata and the plural suffix -gata to create a formal plural pronoun (“you” [plural] in English).

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