The Greek that is translated in English as “prison” is translated in Dehu as moapokamo or “house for tying up people” (source: Maurice Leenhardt in The Bible Translator 1951, p. 97ff. ) and in Nyongar as maya-maya dedinyang or “house shut” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).


The Greek and Hebrew that is translated as “shepherd” in English is translated in Kouya as Bhlabhlɛɛ ‘yliyɔzʋnyɔ — ” tender of sheep.”

Philip Saunders (p. 231) explains:

“Then one day they tackled the thorny problem of ‘shepherd’. It was problematic because Kouyas don’t have herdsmen who stay with the sheep all the time. Sheep wander freely round the village and its outskirts, and often a young lad will be detailed to drive sheep to another feeding spot. So the usual Kouya expression meant a ‘driver of sheep’, which would miss the idea of a ‘nurturing’ shepherd. ‘A sheep nurturer’ was possible to say, but it was unnatural in most contexts. The group came up with Bhlabhlɛɛ ‘yliyɔzʋnyɔ which meant ‘a tender of sheep’, that is one who keeps an eye on the sheep to make sure they are all right. All, including the translators, agreed that this was a most satisfactory solution.”

In Chuj, the translation is “carer” since there was no single word for “shepherd” (source: Ronald Ross), in Muna, it is dhagano dhumba: “sheep guard” since there was no immediate lexical equivalent (source: René van den Berg), in Mairasi it is translated with “people who took care of domesticated animals” (source: Enggavoter 2004), in Nyongar as kookendjeriyang-yakina or “sheep worker” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang), and Kwakum as “those-who-monitor-the-livestock” (source: Stacey Hare in this post ).

See also I am the good shepherd.

complete verse (Luke 2:8)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 2:8:

  • Nyongar: “In that country, shepherds were working outside in the night, looking after their sheep.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “Outside Betlehem town, there were several shepherds. While they were taking care of their sheep in the fields that night,” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Na, that night there were caretakers of sheep in that place staying awake to watch their crowds/flocks of sheep in a grassy-place in open-country.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And on that night, nearby that town, there were some people in the pastures because they were pasturing their domestic animals which were sheep.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “During that night, there were people in the pastureland who were guarding their sheep.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “That night, there were some shepherds guarding their sheep there at the feeding area.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)