bread, loaf

The Greek term that is translated in English as “bread” or “loaf” is translated in Samo, it is translated as “Sago,” which serves “like ‘bread’ for the Hebrews, as a generic for food in the Samo language. It is a near-perfect metonymy that has all the semantic elements necessary for effective communication.” (Source: Daniel Shaw in Scriptura 96/2007, p. 501ff.)

In Chol it is translated as waj, the equivalent of a tortilla. (Click or tap here to see the rest of this insight)

John Beekman (in The Bible Translator 1962, p. 180f. ) explains: “The word ‘bread’ in Scripture primarily occurs as either a specific term for bread (including the Lord’s Supper), or as a generic term for food. It is not surprising, however, the some aboriginal groups use something other than bread as the staff of life. The Chols, with their cultural focus in the cultivation of corn, use waj, a type of thin corn flake. Since a meal is not complete without this main item of food, the term has been extended to include any other foods which may be served along with waj. While bread is known to them, its use is limited to a few occasions during the year when it functions as a dessert. In translating this term in the Chol New Testament, consistent use has been made of the word waj whenever the function of bread as a basic food was in focus. John 6:35, “I am the bread of life,” was thus translated with this word. If the word for bread had been used, it was feared that the Chol would compare Christ to the desirable, but not absolutely necessary, dessert.”

Robert Bascom adds his thoughts to this in relation to other Mayan languages (in Omanson 2001, p. 260): “In many Mayan languages, ‘bread’ can be translated waj or kaxlan waj. The first term literally means anything made from corn meal, while the second term literally means ‘foreigner’s waj,’ and refers to the local wheat-based sweet breads which are so popular within the broader European-influenced culture of the region. On the one hand, waj would be a better dynamic equivalent in cases where ‘bread’ meant ‘food,’ but in cases where the focus is literal or the reference well-known, kaxlan waj would preserve a flour-based meaning (though in biblical times barley was more in use than wheat) and not insert corn into a time and place where it does not belong. On the other hand kaxlan waj is not the staff of life, but refers to a local delicacy. In cases such as these, it is even tempting to suggest borrowing pan, the Spanish word for ‘bread,’ but native speakers might respond that borrowing a foreign word is not necessary since both waj and kaxlan waj are native terms that cover the meaning (though in this case, perhaps not all that well).”

they did not understand about the loaves

The Greek that is translates as “they did not understand about the loaves” or similar in English is translated in the4 following ways:

  • Tzotzil: “They did not understand his power even after seeing the bread multiplied
  • Teutila Cuicatec: “For they did not yet clearly understand that Jesus could do anything, even though they saw that he caused the bread to become enough for all those people who had gathered”
  • Western Highland Chatino: “They weren’t aware that Jesus had so much power, even though he had fed so many people with only five loaves.”
  • Ocotlán Zapotec: “Not even with the miracle of the bread that Jesus performed did they understand who he was.” (Source for all above: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)

hardness of heart

The Greek that is translated as “hardness of heart” in English is translated as “large heart” into San Mateo Del Mar Huave, “tightness of heart” in Shilluk, “blind in their thoughts” in Copainalá Zoque, “hard heads” in Chicahuaxtla Triqui, “ears without holes” in Shipibo-Conibo and “do not have pain in their heart” in both Tzotzil and Tzeltal. (Source: Bratcher /Nida 1961)

In Pwo Karen it is translated as “with thick ears and horns” (source: David Clark), in Saint Lucian Creole French as Tèt yo té wèd toujou or “their heads were hard still” (source: David Frank in Hearts and Minds), in Enlhet as “(their) innermosts were deaf,” and in Woun Meu as “stiff thinking” (source for last two: Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1971, p. 169ff. )

See also stubborn / hardness of heart.

complete verse (Mark 6:52)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 6:52:

  • Uma: “For even though it hadn’t been a long time since they had seen the amazing sign he had done with the bread the previous day, they still did not yet understand clearly [lit., their hearts were still not yet clear] who Yesus really was. Their hearts were still uncertain/hesitant to believe.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “For even though they had seen the power of Isa when he fed the five thousand people, they did not yet really understand as to what the meaning was of what they had seen.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “For even though they had seen the miracle Jesus had done with the bread and fish, they still didn’t understand who he was for their minds were hard.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “because even though they had-seen his multiplying (lit. causing-to-become-many) the bread, they didn’t understand what it signified (lit. meant to say) concerning his power, because they were still stubborn/unresponsive (lit. their heads were still hard).” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Because their minds/thinking hadn’t yet grasped the meaning of what Jesus had done with that bread. It’s like their minds/thinking couldn’t yet get as far as the fact of his supernatural-power.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)