The Greek that is translated as “cross” in English is often referred to a description of the shape (in Chinese, for instance it is translated as 十字架 shízìjià — “10-character-frame” because the character for “10” has the shape of a cross), elsewhere it refers to the function, e.g. a coined term, made up of two Sanskrit words, meaning “killing-pole” (Marathi NT revision of 1964), “wood to-stretch-out-with” (Toraja-Sa’dan), or “nailing pole” (Zarma). A combination of the two seems to be used in Balinese, which employs a word for the crossbeams in a house, derived from a verb that can refer both to a beam that stretches from side to side under a roof, and to a person stretched out for torture (source for this and above: Reling / Swellengrebel). Similarly, in Lamba it is translated “with umutaliko — ‘a pole with a cross-piece, on which maize was normally tied’ from the verb ‘talika’ which, strangely enough, is used of ‘holding down a man with arms and legs stretched out, someone gripping each limb.'” (Source C. M. Doke in The Bible Translator 1958, p. 57ff.)

“In Mongolian, the term that is used is togonoltchi mott, which is found in the top of a tent. The people on the steppes live in round felt-yurts and the round opening on the top of the tent serves as a window. The crosswood in that opening is called togonoltchi mott. ‘Crucified’ is translated ‘nailed on the crosswood.’ This term is very simple, but deep and interesting too. Light comes to men through the Cross. What a privilege to be able to proclaim such a message.” (Source: A. W. Marthinson in The Bible Translator 1954, p. 74ff.)

In Mairasi it is translated as iwo nasin ae: “chest measurement wood.” “This term refers to the process of making a coffin when a person dies. The man making the coffin takes a piece of bamboo and measures the body from head to heel. He then breaks the stick off at the appropriate point. For the width he measures the shoulders and then ties the two sticks together in the shape of a cross. As he works, he continually measures to make sure the coffin is the correct size. At the gravesite, the coffin is lowered. Then the gravecloth, palm leaves, and finally the chest measurement stick are laid on top of the coffin before the dirt is piled on. This term is full of meaning, because it is in the shape of a cross, and each person will have one. The meaning is vividly associated with death.” (Source: Enggavoter, 2004)

In Lisu it is translated as ꓡꓯꓼ ꓐꓳ ꓔꓶꓸ DU — lä bo tɯ du: “a place to stretch the arms across” (source: Arrington 2020, p. 215) and in Nyongar as boorn-yambo: “crossed tree” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

The English English translation of Ruden (2021) uses “stake.” She explains (p. xlv): “The cross was the perpendicular joining of two execution stakes, and the English word euphemistically emphasized the geometry: a cross could also be an abstract cross drawn on paper. The Greeks used their word for ‘stake,’ and this carries the imagery of what was done with it, as our ‘stake’ carries images of burning and impaling. ‘Hang on the stakes’ for ‘*crucify’ is my habitual usage.”

See also crucify.

complete verse (Philippians 3:18)

Following are a number of back-translations of Philippians 3:18:

  • Uma: “Because like I have often said to you–and I also say now while weeping–there are many people whose deeds are evil. With those deeds of theirs, they reject the intention of Kristus dying crucified.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “I have often told you this before, and now I tell you again and it causes me to weep that many people say that they belong to Isa but one can see in their conduct that they oppose the teaching about Almasi’s death on the post.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “I said this before, but I will say again now, along with my tears which are dropping, because of the many people who are subjects of Christ, but we can tell by means of their behavior that they are enemies of the preaching about Christ causing himself to be killed on the cross.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Because there are many who are opposing Cristo, because they look-down-on/make-light-of his death on the cross by-means-of their bad way-of-life. I have often told you this before, but I repeat it nonetheless now while-meanwhile my tears are dripping-down in thinking-about them.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “For it’s like what I am always saying to you, which now I am repeating again accompanying it with my tears, that there are many who live like ememies of the cross where Cristo died, even though they say they have believed in him, for they are insulting/belittling that death of his. There really is no renewing of their nature/ways.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Already many times I have told you this word that I will tell you again. And with my tears I am telling you because there walk many people who say that it is not important that Christ died on the cross.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)