purple

The Greek that is translated as “purple” in English is translated as “blue-red” in Ojitlán Chinantec.

In Kasua was a little bit more involved, as Rachel Greco recalls (in The PNG Experience):

“The Kasua people of Western Province have no word for the color purple. They have words for many other colors: black, red, white, yellow, green, and blue, but not for the color of royalty.

“About nine New Testament passages mention people placing a purple robe on Jesus. The Kasua translation team always wanted to use the word ‘red,’ or keyalo, to describe the robe. Tommy, one of the translation team helpers, disagreed because this is not historically accurate or signifies the royalty of Jesus.

“One of the main rules of translation is that the team must stick to the historical facts when they translate a passage. If they don’t, then how can the readers trust what they’re reading is true? Other questions about truth could bubble in the reader’s minds about the Scriptures. For this reason, Tommy was not willing to change the word purple. So the team hung up the problem, hoping to revisit it later with more inspiration.

“God did not disappoint.

“Years later, Tommy hiked with some of the men near their village. They saw a tree that possessed bulbous growths growing on the side of it like fruit. These growths were ‘the most beautiful color of purple I’d ever seen,’ explained Tommy.

“’What is the name of this tree?’ Tommy asked the men.

“’This is an Okani tree,’ they replied.

“Tommy suggested, ‘Why don’t you, in those passages where we’ve been struggling to translate the color purple, use ‘they put a robe on Jesus the color of the fruit of the Okani tree’?

“’Yeah. We know exactly what color that is,’ the men said enthusiastically.

“Everyone in their village would also visualize this phrase accurately, as the Okani tree is the only tree in that area that produces this kind of purple growth. So now, among the Kasua people, in his royal purple robe, Jesus is shown to be the king that he is.”

complete verse (Revelation 18:16)

Following are a number of back-translations of Revelation 18:16:

  • Uma: “they say: ‘How-sad! How-sad for that big village over there! Usually the Babel people wear fine clothes, white ones, bright red ones and purple [lit., grayish likenew mango leaves] ones. Usually they are decorated with gold, gems [ring eyes], andpearls.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “They say, ‘Allo. It is all over (lit. no longer becoming). What a pity. That famous city was like a woman dressed in expensive purple and red clothes and her body was covered with jewelry and precious stones and pearls.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “They say, ‘How great the city will be missed! The inhabitants there were clothed in expensive cloth, white, red and purple. They decorated their bodies with gold, expensive stones and pearls.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “saying, ‘Oh how-awful (expression of sympathy)! Extremely to-be-pitied is that famous (lit. newsed) city! Because previously, the inhabitants there dressed in expensive (garments) which were white and blue and red. They were extremely decorated-all-over with gold, valuable stones and pearls.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “What they will say is, ‘Alas, this really is extremely hard! Gooseflesh-causing is this which has now happened to this famous city. In the past, the clothes were really ornate and the body decorations dazzling of the people from there. For as for their clothes, they were first-class cloth, and those dyed dark-blue/purple and red. And as for their body decorations, they were gold and expensive mined stones and far-from-ordinary beads.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “They will say: ‘Pity the city. It was like a woman who wore good clothing. Who wore clothing of purple. Who wore clothing of red, who had ornaments of gold with little beautiful stones, and pearls.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)