love (honorifics)

New Testament Greek is by Balinese standards an extremely impolite language. Consider, for example, the second person pronoun. When speaking to God, to a nobleman, to a friend, to a pupil, or to a slave, the same word is used. In Balinese this is completely different. In the above examples one would differentiate various social ranks and use terms which, more or less freely translated, mean “adored one” or “he who is borne on the head”, “feet of Your Highness”, “older (or younger) brother”, “little one”, and “you”. (…) In Balinese one has to cope with three vocabularies within the language, each of which, at a moderate estimate, includes some hundreds of words. One employs the ordinary common language (“Low Balinese”) when speaking with intimates, equals, or inferiors; polite terms must, however, be used as soon as one begins to speak to one’s superiors or to strangers; and “deferential” terms are obligatory in all cases when one is so bold as to speak of parts of the body, or the acts, possessions, and qualities of important people. The Balinese sums up the two last named vocabularies under the term alus (“fine”, or “noble”): we say “High Balinese”. (…)

[The Greek that is translated with] “love” [in English] of a superior for an inferior must be indicated by one term and that of an inferior for a superior by another. Thus we must translate twice the word “love”: “You shall give respectful love to God, …further, you must love your neighbor as yourself”.

Source: J.L. Swellengrebel in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 124ff.

with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind

The phrase that is translated as “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” in English versions is rendered in Kahua with a term for belly/chest as the seat of the emotions.

The same phrase is translated into Kuy as “with all your heart-liver”to show the totality of one’s being. (Source: David Clark)

Similar to that, in Laka one must love with the liver, in Western Kanjobal with the “abdomen,” and in Marshallese with the throat.

What is translated as “soul” in English is translated as “life” in Yaka, Chuukese, and in Ixcatlán Mazatec, “that which stands inside of one” in Navajo, and “spirit” in Kele.

The Greek that is translated in English as “strength” is translated in Yao as “animation” and in Chuukese as “ability.”

The Greek that is translated in English as “mind” is translated in Kele as “thinking,” in Chuukese as “thought(s),” and in Marathi as “intelligence.”

The whole phrase is translated in Tboli as “cause it to start from the very beginning of your stomach your loving God, for he is your place of holding.”

In Poqomchi’ (as in many other Mayan languages), the term “heart” covers both “heart” and “mind.”

(Sources: Bratcher / Nida, Reiling / Swellengrebel, and Bob Bascom [Ixcatlán Mazatec and Poqomchi’])

See also implanted / in one’s heart and complete verse (Mark 12:30), and see Seat of the Mind for traditional views of “ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling.”

For a detailed look at the relationships between the Deuteronomy 6:5 quote, its Septuagint translation and the quotations in the synoptic gospels, see Adaptable for Translation: Deuteronomy 6.5 in the Synoptic Gospels and Beyond by Robert Bascom.

neighbor

The Greek that is translated as “neighbor” in English is rendered into Babatana as “different man,” i.e. someone who is not one of your relatives. (Source: David Clark)

In North Alaskan Inupiatun, it is rendered as “a person outside of your building,” in Tzeltal as “your back and side” (implying position of the dwellings), in Indonesian and in Tae’ as “your fellow-man,” in Toraja-Sa’dan it is “your fellow earth-dweller,” in Shona (translation of 1966) as “another person like you,” in Kekchí “younger-brother-older-brother” (a compound which means all one’s neighbors in a community) (sources: Bratcher / Nida and Reiling / Swellengrebel), in Mairasi “your people” (source: Enggavoter 2004), in Mezquital Otomi as “fellow being,” in Tzeltal as “companion,” in Isthmus Zapotec as “another,” in Teutila Cuicatec as “all people” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.), and in most modern German translations as Mitmensch or “fellow human being” (lit. “with + human being”).

In Matt 19:19, Matt 22:39, Mark 12:31, Mark 12:33, Luke 10:27, Luke 10:29 it is translated into Ixcatlán Mazatec with a term that refers to a person who is socially/physically near. Ixcatlán Mazatec also has a another term for “neighbor” that means “fellow humans-outsiders” which was not chosen for these passages. (Source: Robert Bascom)

In Noongar it is translated as moorta-boordak or “people nearby” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

love (for God)

Nida (1952, p. 125ff.) reports on different translation of the Greek and Hebrew terms that are translated as “love” when referring to loving God:

“The Toro So Dogon people on the edge of the Sahara in French West Africa speak of ‘love for God’ as ‘to put God in our hearts.’ This does not mean that God can be contained wholly within the heart of a man, but the Eternal does live within the hearts of men by His Holy Spirit, and it is only love which prompts the soul to ‘put God in the heart.’

“The Mitla Zapotec Indians, nestled in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, describe ‘love’ in almost opposite words. Instead of putting God into one’s own heart, they say, ‘my heart goes away with God.’ Both the Toro So Dogon and the Zapotecs are right. There is a sense in which God dwells within us, and there is also a sense in which our hearts are no longer our own. They belong to Him, and the object of affection is not here on earth, but as pilgrims with no certain abiding place we long for that fuller fellowship of heaven itself.

“The Uduks seem to take a rather superficial view of love, for they speak of it as ‘good to the eye.’ But we must not judge spiritual insight or capacity purely on the basis of idioms. Furthermore, there is a sense in which this idiom is quite correct. In fact the Greek term agapé, which is used primarily with the meaning of love of God and of the Christian community, means essentially ‘to appreciate the worth and value of something.’ It is not primarily the love which arises from association and comradeship (this is philé), but it defines that aspect of love which prompted God to love us when there was no essential worth or value in us, except as we could be remade in the image of His Son. Furthermore, it is the love which must prompt us to see in men and women, still unclaimed for Jesus Christ, that which God can do by the working of His Spirit. This is the love which rises higher than personal interests and goes deeper than sentimental attachment. This is the basis of the communion of the saints.

“Love may sometimes be described in strong, powerful terms. The Miskitos of the swampy coasts of eastern Nicaragua and Honduras say that ‘love’ is ‘pain of the heart.’ There are joys which become so intense that they seem to hurt, and there is love which so dominates the soul that its closest emotion seems to be pain. The Tzotzils, living in the cloud-swept mountains of Chiapas in southern Mexico, describe love in almost the same way as the Miskitos. They say it is ‘to hurt in the heart.’ (…)

“The Q’anjob’al Indians of northern Guatemala have gone even a step further. They describe love as ‘my soul dies.’ Love is such that, without experiencing the joy of union with the object of our love, there is a real sense in which ‘the soul dies.’ A man who loves God according to the Conob idiom would say ‘my soul dies for God.’ This not only describes the powerful emotion felt by the one who loves, but it should imply a related truth—namely, that in true love there is no room for self. The man who loves God must die to self. True love is of all emotions the most unselfish, for it does not look out for self but for others. False love seeks to possess; true love seeks to be possessed. False love leads to cancerous jealousy; true love leads to a life-giving ministry.” (Source: Nida 1952)

In Mairasi, the term that is used for love for God, by God and for people is the same: “desire one’s face.” (source: Enggavoter 2004)

In Ogea the word for “love” is “die for someone.” (Source: Sandi Colburn in Holzhausen 1991, p. 22)

soul

The Hebrew, Greek, and Latin that is translated as “soul” in English is translated in Chol with a term that refers to the invisible aspects of human beings (source: Robert Bascom).

In Elhomwe it is translated as “heart.” (Source: project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

The Mandarin Chinese línghún (靈魂 / 灵魂), literally “spirit-soul,” is often used for “soul” (along with xīn [心] or “heart”). This is a term that was adopted from Buddhist sources into early Catholic writings and later also by Protestant translators. (Source: Zetzsche 1996, p. 32, see also Clara Ho-yan Chan in this article )

See also heart, soul, mind.

love your neighbor as yourself

The Greek and Hebrew that is translated in English as “love your neighbor as yourself” is translated in Shilluk, Anuak, and Nuer as “love your neighbors as yourselves.” In those and other languages a plural form has to be used if it is to be applied to more than one person where in English a singular can stand for many (compare everyone, each, whoever, any). (Source: Larson 1998, p. 42)

See also he who / whoever and neighbor.

LORD your God / Lord your God

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated in English as “Lord your God” or “Lord your God” is translated as “Lord our God” and “Lord our God” in Tzotzil as well as in many other Mayan languages if the speaker is included as one who calls the Lord their God. If the speaker said “your God” in Tzotzil, he or she would refer to the God of the people he or she addresses but would specifically exclude himself or herself. (Source: Robert Bascom in Omanson 2001, p. 254)

See also my God.

complete verse (Luke 10:27)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 10:27:

  • Noongar: “The man said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your head; and you must love your neighbours (lit.: “people nearby”) the same way you love yourself.'” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “That religious teacher answered: ‘ ‘We must love our Lord the Lord God with our true hearts, we offer our whole life to Him, we love him to the end of our ability and the end of our knowledge.’ And ‘We must love our companions like our love to our own bodies/selves.’ ‘” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “He answered he said, ‘The law says: ‘You should love God, your Lord, entirely, your liver and your mind and your strength. And you should love your companion as you love yourself.’ ‘” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And this person answered, ‘As for the Lord our God, it’s necessary that he is the one that we hold precious in our breath. He is the one precious here in our breath, our minds, our understanding, and in all of our doings. And it’s necessary also, that we treat very well our companion. We must think of him just like we would our own breath.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “That teacher of the law answered, ‘What God caused to be written, it says, ‘You (sing.) must concentrate all your (sing.) thoughts, strength and skill/intelligence in loving God your (sing.) Lord,’ and it also says, ‘You (sing.) must love your (sing.) fellow like your (sing.) manner-of-loving yourself (sing.).’ ‘” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “‘What I read there,’ said that explainer of law in reply, ‘is that it says, ‘You (sing.) must hold-dear your God, not just saying-but-not-meaning-it, but on the contrary with your mind/inner-being and mind/thinking being concentrated, and with all your strength.’ And this also, ‘You (sing.) are to value your fellowman like your valuing of your own body.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

See also complete verse (Mark 12:30).