boat, ship

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated “boat” or “ship” in English is translated in Chichimeca-Jonaz as “that with which we can walk on water” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.) and in Chitonga as a term in combination with bwato or “dugout canoe” (source: Wendland 1987, p. 72).

In Kouya it is translated as ‘glʋ ‘kadʋ — “big canoe.”

Philip Saunders (p. 231) explains how the Kouya team arrived at that conclusion:

“Acts chapter 27 was a challenge! It describes Paul’s sea voyage to Italy, and finally Rome. There is a storm at sea and a shipwreck on Malta, and the chapter includes much detailed nautical vocabulary. How do you translate this for a landlocked people group, most of whom have never seen the ocean? All they know are small rivers and dugout canoes.

“We knew that we could later insert some illustrations during the final paging process which would help the Kouya readers to picture what was happening, but meanwhile we struggled to find or invent meaningful terms. The ‘ship’ was a ‘big canoe’ and the ‘passengers’ were ‘the people in the big canoe’; the ‘crew’ were the ‘workers in the big canoe’; the ‘pilot’ was the ‘driver of the big canoe’; the ‘big canoe stopping place’ was the ‘harbour’, and the ‘big canoe stopping metal’ was the ‘anchor’!”

See also ships of Tarshish, harbor, anchor, and sailor.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Mark 4:35 / Luke 8:22)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). (Click or tap here to see more details)

The inclusive “we” specifically includes the addressee (“you and I and possibly others”), while the exclusive “we” specifically excludes the addressee (“he/she/they and I, but not you”). This grammatical distinction is called “clusivity.” While Semitic languages such as Hebrew or most Indo-European languages such as Greek or English do not make that distinction, translators of languages with that distinction have to make a choice every time they encounter “we” or a form thereof (in English: “we,” “our,” or “us”).

For this verse, translators typically select the inclusive form (including the disciples).

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.

complete verse (Luke 8:22)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 8:22:

  • Nyongar: “One day, Jesus and his disciples got into a boat. Jesus said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they started going.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “One day, Yesus with his disciples was riding a boat. Yesus said saying to them: ‘Let’s go to the other side of the lake.’ They left.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “One day Isa went together with his disciples in a boat and he said to them, ‘Let us go, crossing over to the other side of the lake.’ Therefore they started out.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “One day at that time, Jesus and his disciples got into a boat, and he said, ‘Come on, let’s cross over to the other side.’ And then they left, riding in the boat.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “On one-occasion, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let’s cross-over (body of water).’ And they rode in a boat to depart.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “One day, Jesus sailed in a boat together with his disciples. He said to those disciples of his, ‘Let’s go to the other side of this lake.’ Well, they sailed to go to the other side.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

disciple

The Greek that is often translated as “disciple” in English typically follows three types of translation: (1) those which employ a verb ‘to learn’ or ‘to be taught’, (2) those which involve an additional factor of following, or accompaniment, often in the sense of apprenticeship, and (3) those which imply imitation of the teacher.

Following are some examples (click or tap for details):

In Luang several terms with different shades of meaning are being used.

  • For Mark 2:23 and 3:7: maka nwatutu-nwaye’a re — “those that are taught” (“This is the term used for ‘disciples’ before the resurrection, while Jesus was still on earth teaching them.”)
  • For Acts 9:1 and 9:10: makpesiay — “those who believe.” (“This is the term used for believers and occasionally for the church, but also for referring to the disciples when tracking participants with a view to keeping them clear for the Luang readers. Although Greek has different terms for ‘believers’, ‘brothers’, and ‘church’, only one Luang word can be used in a given episode to avoid confusion. Using three different terms would imply three different sets of participants.”)
  • For Acts 6:1: mak lernohora Yesus wniatutunu-wniaye’eni — “those who follow Jesus’ teaching.” (“This is the term used for ‘disciples’ after Jesus returned to heaven.”)

Source: Kathy Taber in Notes on Translation 1/1999, p. 9-16.