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 (Luke 2:42)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 2:42:

  • Nyongar: “When Jesus was 12 years old, they went to the Festival as always.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “When Yesus’ age was twelve years, they also went to attend the big day as usual.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “When Isa was twelve years old they went to that feast as they were used to do.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And when Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the feast according to their custom.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “When Jesus was twelve years old, he went-with his parents (lit. plural father) to go to Jerusalem, because it was their yearly custom to go attend-the-fiesta at the fiesta called Passed-By.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “When the age of Jesus was twelve years now, they took him with them when they next went to join in the fiesta as they always did.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)