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.”

complete verse (Revelation 7:9)

Following are a number of back-translations of Revelation 7:9:

  • Uma: “After that, I again saw people/mankind no kidding their manyness, no-one could count them. They were from all over the world, from every country, every descent-group and every kind of language. They stood in front of the Seat of the King and in front of the Lamb. They were dressed in white clothes and they held fronds which they continually waved as a sign of their respect/honor.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “After that I saw crowds of people, very many, uncountable. Those people were from all kingdoms in the world, from all tribes, from all places and from every kind of language. They were standing there facing the throne and the one called the Sheep. They wore white robes and carried each one of them (something) like the shape of the end of a coconut palm leaf.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “After that I saw a great number of people who could not be counted because they were so many. They came from every kingdom, and tribe, and race, and every language. They were standing before the seat of God and before the young sheep. They were dressed in white, and they were carrying leafy branches.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “When I looked-from-a-distance again, why there were many people who couldn’t be counted who were from all nations and groups whose languages and skin were mutually-different. They were standing before the throne and the Sheep. They were dressed in white robes and they were holding leaves of trees like the coconut-palm as-evidence-of their happiness.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “When that thing was ended, what I saw next was many, many people. They couldn’t be counted by anyone. Those people, they came from every language and nation. They were standing in the presence of that one who was sitting on the king’s seat and in the presence of that one referred to as Young Sheep. They were all dressed in white and they were holding fronds of a palm like badangan.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Having passed what I saw, I looked again, and there were very many people whom I saw. They had come from all the nations, they were natives of everywhere. And each one spoke different languages. They stood in front of the chair where the Lamb stood at. Very, very many people were there, they couldn’t be counted. And all were clothed in white clothing and all held palm branches.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)