circumcise, circumcision

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The Hebrew and Greek terms that are translated as “circumcise” or “circumcision” in English (originally meaning of English term: “to cut around”) are (back-) translated in various ways:

  • Chimborazo Highland Quichua: “to cut the flesh”
  • San Miguel El Grande Mixtec, Navajo: “to cut around”
  • Javanese: “to clip-away”
  • Uab Meto: “to pinch and cut” (usually shortened to “to cut”)
  • North Alaskan Inupiatun, Western Highland Purepecha: “to put the mark”
  • Tetelcingo Nahuatl: “to put the mark in the body showing that they belong to God” (or: “that they have a covenant with God”)
  • Indonesian: disunat — “undergo sunat” (sunat is derived from Arabic “sunnah (سنة)” — “(religious) way (of life)”)
  • Ekari: “to cut the end of the member for which one fears shame” (in Gen. 17:10) (but typically: “the cutting custom”) (source for this and above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • Hiri Motu: “cut the skin” (source: Deibler / Taylor 1977, p. 1079)
  • Garifuna: “cut off part of that which covers where one urinates”
  • Bribri: “cut the soft” (source for this and the one above: Ronald Ross)
  • Amele: deweg cagu qoc — “cut the body” (source: John Roberts)
  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “cut the flesh of the sons like Moses taught” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.)
  • Newari: “put the sign in one’s bodies” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Central Mazahua: “sign in his flesh”
  • Hopi: “being cut in a circle in his body” (source for this and above: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)

complete verse (Romans 2:27)

Following are a number of back-translations of Romans 2:27:

  • Uma: “If it is like that, the result will be that the actions of those non-Jews show that we Jews are wrong/guilty. Because we [emphatic], we have the written Law of the Lord, and we are also circumcised according to that Law of the Lord, yet we just disobey his commands. They [emphatic], they are not circumcised, but it is they who follow the Lord’s commands.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “You Yahudi, you are circumcised and there is God’s law written for you yet you break the law. But the non-Yahudi even if they are not circumcised some of them follow the law of God. Therefore you will be shamed by them.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And even though he’s not a Jew, by means of his obeying the Law he shows that you Jews will be punished by God because you, by contrast, disobey the Law. And you are those to whom the Law has been left and you are the ones who were circumcised.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Thus the Gentile who is not circumcised but who nonetheless obeys God’s law, he shows the sin of the Jews because of his righteousness. Because the Jew, even though he has God’s written law and even though he has gotten-circumcised, he still breaks that law.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “When a person is not a Jew but does what the law says, then it is quite apparent that the Jew has sin. Because the Jew has the written law which he follows, and yet he doesn’t do what is said in the law.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)


The Greek that is translated in English as “Law” or “law” is translated in Mairasi as oro nasinggiei or “prohibited things.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)

In Yucateco the phrase that is used for “law” is “ordered-word” (for “commandment,” it is “spoken-word”) (source: Nida 1947, p. 198) and in Central Tarahumara it is “writing-command.” (wsource: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)