colt that has never been ridden

The phrase that is translated into English as “a colt that has never been ridden” can be translated in Kalmyk much more succinctly than even the original Greek text since Kalmyk has a specific word for an unbroken colt. (source: David Clark)

In the Arhuaco translation of Luke 19:35 (in the English translation: “after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.”) the co-translator knew how unruly unbroken colts are so they translated “they held the donkey steady so that Jesus could get on it.” (source: Paul Lundquist in The Bible Translator 1992, p. 246.)

complete verse (Luke 19:30)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 19:30:

  • Uma: “He said to them: ‘Go to the town that we are in front of there. When you enter into the town, you will see a young [lit., child] donkey that is tied. That donkey has not yet one time been ridden. Open/Untie its rope and bring it here.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “He said to them, ‘Go to the village in front of you, and when you arrive there you will see the child of donkey tied, which nobody has yet ridden on. Untie it and bring it here.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “He said, ‘You go into the village ahead of us, and when you arrive there you will see a young donkey tied up, that has never been ridden on since it was born. Untie it and bring it here.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘Go to that town across-the-way. Right when you arrive there, you will come-upon a child of a donkey that has not been ridden that is tethered. Untie it to bring it here.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “He said to them, ‘Go to that bario of Betfage. When you get there, you will see a young-one of a (type of) horse which is an asno tethered, which hasn’t yet been broken-for-riding. Untie it and bring it here to me.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

formal pronoun: Jesus addressing his disciples and common people

Like many languages (but unlike Greek or Hebrew or English), Tuvan uses a formal vs. informal 2nd person pronoun (a familiar vs. a respectful “you”). Unlike other languages that have this feature, however, the translators of the Tuvan Bible have attempted to be very consistent in using the different forms of address in every case a 2nd person pronoun has to be used in the translation of the biblical text.

As Voinov shows in Pronominal Theology in Translating the Gospels (in: The Bible Translator 2002, p. 210ff.), the choice to use either of the pronouns many times involved theological judgment. While the formal pronoun can signal personal distance or a social/power distance between the speaker and addressee, the informal pronoun can indicate familiarity or social/power equality between speaker and addressee.

Here, Jesus is addressing his disciples, individuals and/or crowds with the formal pronoun, showing respect.

In most Dutch translations, Jesus addresses his disciples and common people with the informal pronoun, whereas they address him with the formal form.