love (Luang)

The various Greek terms that are translated as “love” in English can be translated with various terms in Luang with different shades of meaning.

For Acts 7:46 and Titus 1:8, ralamni nala (“insides take”). “This term has the sense of finding favor with or being pleased by someone and is used for love between a man and a woman, between a parent and a much-loved child. It is also used of God’s being especially pleased with a human, such as he was with Noah and Moses. It can refer to loving objects good or bad, and to loving the world. The focus here is on some pleasing characteristic of the person or thing loved.”

For Mark 6:34, nmawaldoinla (“insides turn completely over”). “Love mixed with pity and distress. One can feel this for oneself as well as for others. Jesus felt this way when he looked at the multitudes who were like sheep without a shepherd.”

For Mark 1:11, lilili (“take care of, honor”). “Loving with special care, attention, and honor. This is the term often used for loving a dear child and God’s loving his Son.”

For 1 Thess. 2:8 and Mark 1:11, siayni (“love, pity”). “Affection for children or for those in difficult circumstances.”

For Titus 3:4 and 1 Thess. 1:2-3, ralamni kalwieda-paitiota (“good insides”). The focus of this term is the goodness of the one who loves. There is absolutely no focus whatsoever on the one loved, who may even be despicable. This term is often used for God’s love and mercy toward us especially in such verses as ‘God loved us, not because of what we have done, but because of his great mercy.'”

For 1 Thess. 1:4 and 2 Tim. 4:10, napalniana (“insides face”). “The sense of this term is very close to that of the sense of ‘ralamni nalal’ for ‘love’. It indicates something about the thing or person loved that pleases the one loving. However, the sense ‘ralamni nalal’ refers generally to love as an outcome of the loved one’s pleasing characteristics, while this term, when it collocates with human beings, is used more for love that results from the loved one’s loving actions. It is not used for the love between a man and a woman.”

The following are service-related terms for “love.” “There are several different words for love where the focus is on the act produced by love, not on the goodness of the one loving, the one being loved, or any emotion of affection or pity. These words are differentiated by the particular service given and are mainly used in verses where people are commanded to love one another.”

For 2 Thess. 1:3 and 1 Tim. 6:18, ra’a-palu (“love-widow”). “This term’s focus is on love displayed by giving to one another financially.”

For 1 Thess. 3:12, nhimpai-nmanatu (“hold out hands, place carefully”). This term’s focus is more on daily practical care of someone.

For Titus 2:2 and 1 Tim. 6:11, hima-re’a (“hold out hands”). “This term’s focus is on helping someone with their work.”

For 1 Thess. 4:9, mpiehwa-mliakta kalwiedweda (“good/careful actions”). “This term’s focus is on the proper treatment of others on meeting them. It implies being hospitable, polite, respecting.”

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

compassion, moved with compassion

The Greek that is translated with “moved with compassion (or: pity)” in English is translated as “to see someone with sorrow” in Piro, “to suffer with someone” in Huastec, or “one’s mind to be as it were out of one” in Balinese (source: Bratcher / Nida).

The term “compassion” is translated as “cries in the soul” in Shilluk (source: Nida, 1952, p. 132), “has a good stomach” (=”sympathetic”) in Aari (source: Loren Bliese), “has a big liver” in Una (source: Kroneman 2004, p. 471), or “crying in one’s stomach” in Q’anjob’al (source: Newberry and Kittie Cox in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 91ff. ). In Mairasi it is translated with an emphasized term that is used for “love”: “desiring one’s face so much” (source: Enggavoter 2004) and in Chitonga with kumyongwa or “to have the intestines twisting in compassion/sorrow for someone” (source: Wendland 1987, p. 128f.).

See also Seat of the Mind for traditional views of “ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling.”


The Greek that is translated as a form of “teach” is translated with some figurative phrases such as “to engrave the mind” (Ngäbere) or “to cause others to imitate” (Huichol). (Source: Bratcher / Nida)

In Nyongar it is translated as karni-waangki or “truth saying” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

they were like sheep without a shepherd

The Greek that is translated in English as “they were like sheep without a shepherd” or similar is translated in Tlahuitoltepec Mixe as “they were standing about sadly like many sheep whose watcher had gone.” (Source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)

See also shepherd.


“Sheep are known throughout most of the world, even though, as in Central Africa, they are a far cry from the fleecy wool-producing animals of colder climates. Where such animals are known, even by seemingly strange names, e.g. ‘cotton deer’ (Yucateco) or ‘woolly goat’ (Inupiaq), such names should be used. In some instances, one may wish to borrow a name and use a classifier, e.g. ‘an animal called sheep’. In still other instances translators have used ‘animal which produces wool’, for though people are not acquainted with the animals they are familiar with wool.” (Source: Bratcher / Nida)

In Dëne Súline, it is usually translated as “an evil little caribou.” To avoid the negative connotation, a loan word from the neighboring South Slavey was used. (Source: NCAM, p. 70)

Note that the often-alleged Inuktitut translation of “sheep” with “seal” is an urban myth (source Nida 1947, p. 136).

See also lamb.


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 (Mark 6:34)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 6:34:

  • Uma: “When Yesus got out of the boat, he saw many people waiting for him. His love welled up seeing them, for their appearance was like sheep that are not shepherded. He taught them many things.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “When Isa came-to-the-shore (takas) he saw very many people and he had pity on them, for they were like sheep (and) nobody cared for them. So-then he taught them a lot.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw that many people were gathered there. He pitied them because they seemed like domestic animals, sheep, with no one to care for them. They were very pitiful. For this reason he taught them many things.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “When plural Jesus landed and they got-out of the boat, he saw the many people, and he felt-pity for them, because they were like sheep that had no one to care-for them. Then he began to teach them many things.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Therefore when Jesus descended from the place he had gone to, he saw many people again. He pitied those people for they were just like sheep without a shepherd. Therefore Jesus began again to teach them many things.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)