quietness

The interconfessional Chichewa translation (publ. 1999) uses the ideophone bata to describe complete quietness. (Source: Wendland 1998, p. 105)

Philip Noss (in The Bible Translator 1976, p. 100ff. ) explains the function of an ideophone: “The ideophone may be identified with onomatopoeia and other sound words frequently seen in French and English comic strips, but in [many] African languages it comprises a class of words with a very wide range of meaning and usage. They may function verbally, substantively, or in a modifying role similar to adverbs and adjectives. They describe anything that may be experienced: action, sound, color, quality, smell, or emotion. In oral literature they are used not only with great frequency but also with great creativity.”

Jesus calming the sea in Shor throat singing

The following is a representation of the story of Jesus calming the sea in Shor with traditional throat singing. The singers are Lubov Arbachakova (with no instrument) and Irena Kiskurova:

A translation of the Russian subtitles into English:

0:11 Once Jesus was at the sea with his disciples.
0:24 A multitude of people gathered, and he began to teach them.
0:36 When evening came, He said to His disciples:
0:45 “Let’s move to the other side.”
0:48 The disciples asked the people to leave,
0:56 they were all in the boat together in Jesus and set out on the other side of the sea.
1:22 Suddenly there was a strong storm.
1:30 The waves beat the boat so that it was filled with water.
1:42 And Jesus at this time slept in the stern of the boat, laying his head on the steersman’s seat.
1:58 The disciples woke him up and said:
2:08 “Teacher! Do you really care that we are dying?”
2:11 Jesus stood up, calmed the wind, and said to the sea:
2:20 «Hush, shut up!»
2:23 The wind died down, and there was a complete calm on the sea.
2:35 And Jesus rebuked the disciples:
2:46 “Why are you so timid? Do you have absolutely no faith?”
2:52 They continued sailing, and the disciples spoke to each other with fear:
3:11 “Who is He, that even the wind and the sea listen to Him?”

Video provided by Bronwen Cleaver.

See also examples of Southern Altai throat singing.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Mark 4:38 / Luke 8:24)

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 (“we are perishing” in English translations), Yagua translators selected the inclusive form, including Jesus (the Sierra Totonac and the Tok Pisin translators did as well). The Yagua translators justify this by saying, “Did the disciples think of their Lord as about to perish with them, or were they selfishly only thinking of their own safety, or did they feel He at least would not perish? We translated this one with the inclusive, giving the disciples the benefit of the doubt, since they had waited so long to waken Him, they couldn’t have been too selfish in their thinking.” (Source: Paul Powlison in Notes on Translation with Drills, p. 165ff.)

Different versions of the Bible in Marathi have chosen different solutions for this. The versions by Pandita Ramabai (NT publ. 1912) chose the exclusive form and B. N. Athavle the inclusive form in his translation (publ. 1931). The Bible Society’s version (initially the British, later the Indian BS) in their revision of the 1950s also chose the exclusive form, despite strong protests of the revision committee’s chair H.G. Howard who interpreted Jesus’ strong rebuke of the disciples in succeeding verses due to the fact that the disciples had included him in their worries, which would necessitate the inclusive form. (Source: H.G. Howard in The Bible Translator 1925, p. 25ff. )

complete verse (Luke 8:24)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 8:24:

  • Noongar: “The disciples went to Jesus and woke him. ‘Lord! Lord! We will die!’ Jesus awoke and spoke to the storm and waves. They stopped and everything became peaceful.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “His disciples went to Yesus [and] woke him up, they said: ‘Teacher! Teacher! We are dying!’ Yesus got up and forbade the wind and frightening waves. The wind stopped, and the lake was again still. All was quiet.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “They went and woke up Isa, they said, ‘O, Sir, we (incl.) here will die.’ Then Isa got up and he stopped the wind and the strong waves. Immediately the wind stopped and the lake was calm.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And they came to Jesus and woke him and they said, ‘Chief, we’re about to be destroyed!’ And Jesus woke up then, and got up, and he told the wind and the big waves that they should be quiet. And then the lake became very peaceful.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “So they then woke Jesus saying, ‘Ay Lord, Lord! Here we are drowning!’ Then Jesus got-up and commanded the wind and strong waves, and they completely (lit. correctly) became-quiet.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “The disciples woke Jesus. ‘Master! Master!’ they said, ‘we’re going to sink!’ Without anything further, Jesus got up and spoke-sternly to the wind and the roughness. Well suddenly/unexpectedly the wind died down and it became very calm.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Luke 8:24

Exegesis:

proselthontes de diēgeiran auton ‘after going (to Jesus) they woke him up.’ For proserchomai cf. on 7.14.

diegeirō ‘to wake up (from sleep).’

epistata epistata ‘master, master.’ The repetition makes the vocative more emphatic. For epistatēs cf. on 5.5.

apollumetha ‘we are perishing,’ without indicating the way in which this happens.

epetimēsen tō anemō kai tō kludōni tou hudatos ‘he checked the wind and the rough water,’ cf. on 4.35.

kludōn with hudatos ‘rough water.’

kai epausanto ‘and they ceased,’ a general term.

egeneto galēnē ‘there was a calm.’

galēnē ‘calm,’ always of the sea.

Translation:

They went. Several versions indicate the goal, cf. ‘having come to him’ (Marathi), ‘the disciples approached Jesus’ (Balinese).

We are perishing. The translator should seek the idiomatic expression that people would commonly use in such a situation; in most cases this seems to require the inclusive pronoun. In honorific languages, however, linguistic etiquette may not allow that one includes one’s betters in one’s own situation; hence the exclusive pronoun, e.g. in Javanese, Sundanese. Sometimes the choice can be avoided, e.g. where an impersonal idiom is available, cf. ‘brought-to-destruction now’ (Balinese), ‘having-sunk’ (Marathi, using a past tense form without explicit pronoun and with a non-distinctive first person plural ending), or, ‘the boat is being wrecked.’ In this context a rendering that specifies the way in which they are perishing is also acceptable, cf. ‘we will drown’ (Tae,’ Sundanese).

Rebuked, or in this context, ‘caused to cease, or, to be calm.’

The raging waves may have to be expressed variously, e.g. ‘the high waves,’ ‘the stormy/seething water,’ ‘the water that-was-in-waves,’ ‘the rolling of the waves.’

And is consecutive here; hence, ‘so that’ (Balinese, Batak Toba).

They ceased, and there was a calm. Subject of the first clause are the winds, the second clause refers to the water; hence one may have to say something like, ‘the winds/storm ceased (or, ceased to blow, blew no more), and the water (or, waves/lake) became calm (or, still/smooth).’

Quoted with permission from Reiling, J. and Swellengrebel, J.L. A Handbook on the Gospel of Luke. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1971. For this and other handbooks for translators see here . Make sure to also consult the Handbook on the Gospel of Mark for parallel or similar verses.