transgression, trespass

The Greek that is often translated as “trespass” or “transgression” in English is translated as “missing the commandment” in Kipsigis and “to step beyond the law” in Navajo. (Source: Bratcher / Nida 1961)

In Tepeuxila Cuicatec it is translated as “thing not reached.” Marjorie Davis (in The Bible Translator 1952, p. 34ff.) explains: “[This] implies that the goal was not reached, the task was not finished, or of finished, it was not satisfactorily done. According to the Cuicateco way of thinking of one does not what is expected of him, he offends [or: trespasses] and is an offence.”


The Greek that is translated with “salvation” in English is translated in the following ways:

  • San Blas Kuna: “receive help for bad deeds” (“this help is not just any kind of help but help for the soul which has sinned)
  • Northwestern Dinka: “help as to his soul” (“or literally, ‘his breath'”) (source for this and the one above: Nida 1952, p. 140)
  • Central Mazahua: “healing the heart” (source: Nida 1952, p. 40)
  • Tzeltal: col: “get loose,” “go free,” “get well” (source: Marianna C. Slocum in The Bible Translator 1958, p. 49f.)
  • Aari: “the day our Savior comes” (in Rom 13:11) (source: Loren Bliese)

in Mairasi its is translated as “life fruit” or “life fruit all mashed out.” Lloyd Peckham explains: “In secret stories, not knowable to women nor children, there was a magical fruit of life. If referred to vaguely, without specifying the specific ‘fruit,’ it can be an expression for eternity.” And for “all masked out” he expains: “Bark cloth required pounding. It got longer and wider as it got pounded. Similarly, life gets pounded or mashed to lengthen it into infinity. Tubers also get mashed into the standard way of serving the staple food, like the fufu of Uganda, or like poi of Hawaii. It spreads out into infinity.” (See also eternity / forever)

In Lisu a poetic construct is used for this term. Arrington (2020, p. 58f.) explains: “A four-word couplet uses Lisu poetic forms to bridge the abstract concrete divide, an essential divide to cross if Christian theology is to be understood by those with oral thought patterns. Each couplet uses three concrete nouns or verbs to express an abstract term. An example of this is the word for salvation, a quite abstract term essential to understanding Christian theology. To coin this new word, the missionary translators used a four-word couplet: ℲO., CYU. W: CYU (person … save … person … save). In this particular case, the word for person was not the ordinary word (ʁ) but rather the combination of ℲO., and W: used in oral poetry. The word for ‘save’ also had to be coined; in this case, it was borrowed from Chinese [from jiù / 救]. These aspects of Lisu poetry, originally based on animism, likely would have been lost as Lisu society encountered communism and modernization. Yet they are now codified in the Lisu Bible as well as the hymnbook.”

See also save.


The Greek that is often translated as “gentiles” in English is often translated as a “local equivalent of ‘foreigners,'” such as “the people of other lands” (Guerrero Amuzgo), “people of other towns” (Tzeltal), “people of other languages” (San Miguel El Grande Mixtec), “strange peoples” (Navajo) (this and above, see Bratcher / Nida), “outsiders” (Ekari), “people of foreign lands” (Kannada), “non-Jews” (North Alaskan Inupiatun), “people being-in-darkness” (a figurative expression for people lacking cultural or religious insight) (Toraja-Sa’dan) (source for this and three above Reiling / Swellengrebel), “from different places all people” (Martu Wangka) (source: Carl Gross).

Tzeltal translates it as “people in all different towns,” Chicahuaxtla Triqui as “the people who live all over the world,” Highland Totonac as “all the outsider people,” Sayula Popoluca as “(people) in every land” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.), Chichimeca-Jonaz as “foreign people who are not Jews,” Sierra de Juárez Zapotec as “people of other nations” (source of this and one above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.), Highland Totonac as “outsider people” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.), Uma as “people who are not the descendants of Israel” (source: Uma Back Translation), and Yakan as “the other tribes” (source: Yakan Back Translation).

See also nations.

complete verse (Romans 11:11)

Following are a number of back-translations of Romans 11:11:

  • Uma: “So, most of the Jews stumbled because they do not believe. But let’s not say/think like this: they stumbled with the result that they will end up falling forever. That is not God’s purpose! From the disobedience of the Jews, people who are not Jews are given opportunity to believe in the Lord Yesus and be lifted from the punishment of their sins. In the end the Jews will get desirous, wanting to follow the example of people who are not Jews.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “If it is like that, what is the outcome/result for the tribe of Yahudi? Did God already turn-his-back-on/reject them forever because they do not trust Isa Almasi? No indeed! But because they turned-their-backs-on/rejected God so then the not Yahudi are saved/rescued first by God so that they go to heaven, in order that when the Yahudi see this, they will want to follow/obey God like the nations/tribes not Yahudi.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And my fellow Jews have stumbled because they don’t believe in Christ. However, don’t you think that it’s not possible for God to bring them back to faith. Because they would not listen to the word of God, it became possible that the people who are not Jews could be freed from punishment so that the Jews might become envious. The reason this took place is so that the Jews might return to their faith when they see that the people who aren’t Jews are being saved.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “I ask then: The stumbling of the majority of Jews, does it mean to say that they are not able-to-rise again? No, the truth of it is that because of their sin of not believing in Cristo, the Gentiles experienced being saved so that the Jews would thus be-jealous-of them, because they indeed also want to be saved.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Well then, is it that God will be separated from the Jews always? Will there never come the day when other Jews will have their souls saved? Yes, there will come the day when there will be Jews who will have their souls saved. Truly the Jews now are separated from God, but God caused that the people who are not Jews became the people of God. Because he wants that the Jews who separated from God will be jealous of the people who became the people of God.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “Well now I want to ask you this. Now that the Israelites have fallen down, are they going to stay down forever? No. They will be loved again. But since they fell because they wouldn’t believe, now the other people who aren’t Israelites can be saved. In that way the Israelites will want that God do for them as he did for the other people.” (Source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)