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.)
Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 11:2:
- Uma: “he said to them: ‘You go to that village we are facing over there [in sight, far away]. Just when you enter the village, you will see a young keledai [animal] tied up, that has never been ridden. Undo its ropes and bring it here.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
- Yakan: “He said to them, ‘Go to that village ahead of you. When you arrive there, immediately you will see the offspring of an asnu tied (to something), it has not been ridden on. Untie (it) and bring (it) here.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
- Western Bukidnon Manobo: “he said, ‘Go to the village that we are about to arrive in, and when you get there you will see a young asnu tied up there that has never been ridden on. Untie it and bring it here.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
- Kankanaey: “saying, ‘Go to that town across-the-way. Exactly as you are arriving there, you will come-upon a young (lit. child of) donkey that has never been ridden that is tethered. Untie it and bring it here.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
- Tagbanwa: “He said to them, ‘Go there to that bario of Betfage. When you get there, you will see a young asno horse tethered, which has not yet been-broken-for-riding. Untie it and bring it here to me.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
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.