lamb

The term that is translated as “lamb” in English is typically translated as “offspring of a sheep” in Ixcatlán Mazatec since there is no specific word for “lamb.” Since this could distract readers with thoughts of God being the sheep when the “lamb” refers to Jesus the translation into Ixcatlán Mazatec chose “little (individual) sheep” for those cases. (Source: Robert Bascom)

In Dëne Súline the native term for “lamb” directly translated as “the young one of an evil little caribou.” To avoid the negative connotation, a loan word from the neighboring South Slavey was used. (Source: NCAM, p. 70)

For the Kasua translation, it took a long process to find the right term. Rachel Greco (in The PNG Experience) tells this story:

“To the Kasua people of Western Province, every four-legged animal is a pig. They call a horse a pig-horse, a cow, a pig-cow, and a sheep, a pig-sheep, because all of these animals have four legs, which is kopolo, or pig, in their language.

“When the translation team would translate the word, ‘sheep’ in the New Testament, they would translate it as ‘pig-sheep’. So when Jesus is referred to as the ‘Lamb,’ (John 1:29; Rev. 12:11; Rev. 17:14), they translated as ‘pig-sheep’ so that in John 1:29 it would read: ‘Behold, the pig-sheep of God.’

“When some members of the translation team attended the Translators Training Course, they had the opportunity to observe and study sheep for the first time. As they watched and learned more about the animals’ behavior, their understanding of these creatures—and God’s Word—rotated on its axis.

“Once during the course, Logan and Konni — the translation team’s helpers — were driving with the team to a Bible dedication when Amos, one of the team members, said passionately, ‘We can’t use the word kopolo in front of the word, ‘sheep’! Pigs know when they’re about to die and squeal and scream.’ The team had often watched villagers tie up pigs so they wouldn’t escape.

“’But,’ Amos said, ‘Jesus didn’t do that.’ The team had learned that sheep are quiet and still when death walks toward them. They had observed, as they translated the New Testament, the words of Isaiah 53 fulfilled: ‘Like a lamb led to the slaughter, he did not open his mouth.’ And now they understood what it meant. For this reason, the team decided not to put pig-sheep in the New Testament for the word ‘sheep,’ but used sheep-animal or, in their language, a:pele sipi.

“The Kasua translation team also chose to discard the word ‘pig’ before sheep because pigs are unclean animals to the Jews. The team knew that Jesus was called the ‘Lamb of God’ in the New Testament to show that he is unblemished and clean. Hopefully the Lord will open up the Kasua villagers’ eyes to these same truths about Jesus as they read of Him in their own language.”

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Rev. 6:16)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). The inclusive “we” specifically includes the addressee (“you and I and possibly others”), while the exclusive “we” specifically excludes the addressee (“he/she/they and I, but not you”). This grammatical distinction is called “clusivity.” While Semitic languages such as Hebrew or most Indo-European languages such as Greek or English do not make that distinction, translators of languages with that distinction have to make a choice every time they encounter “we” or a form thereof (in English: “we,” “our,” or “us”).

For this verse, translators typically select the exclusive form (only including the kings and the magnates etc. — see verse 15).

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.

complete verse (Revelation 6:16)

Following are a number of back-translations of Revelation 6:16:

  • Uma: “and they shouted/called speaking to the mountains like this: they said: ‘Fall on us (excl.), mountains! Roll over us (excl.), rocks! So that we (excl.) are hidden from the gaze of him who sits on the Seat of the King, and so that we (excl.) will not be struck by the anger of that Lamb over there!'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “They called to the mountains and to the stones/rocks, saying, ‘Fall and cover us (excl.) so that we (excl.) will not be seen by the one who sits on the throne and so that we (excl.) will not be-affected-by-the-wrath of the Sheep.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “They shouted out to the mountains and to the stones. They said, ‘Roll on top of us so that we cannot be seen by the One Who sits on the seat of ruling in heaven, and also so that we cannot be reached by the anger of the young sheep.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “And they pleaded-for-mercy saying to the mountains and rocks, ‘Please cave-in/landslide so that you will cover/bury us (excl.) so that the one who is seated on the throne will not see-us and we (excl.) will escape the Sheep’s fearful punishment of us (excl.).” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Those people were ordering the mountains and rocks saying, ‘Go ahead, fill in over us (excl.), so that we (excl.) will be hidden from view, so that we (excl.) won’t be seen by that one sitting on the king’s seat, and also so that we (excl.) won’t experience the incurred anger of that one referred to as Young Sheep.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “the people then said to the mountains and cliffs: ‘Fall on top of us so that you cover us and we will not be found by the one who sits in the chair. Because fearful is the punishment which the Lamb will give. We do not want to go through it.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)