The Greek that is translated into English as “sigh” is translated into Bilua as “turtle breathing.”
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 inclusive form (including the writer of the letter and the readers).
Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.
The Greek that is translated as a form of “pray” in English is often translated as “talking with God” (Central Pame, Tzeltal, Chol, Chimborazo Highland Quichua, Shipibo-Conibo, Kaqchikel, Tepeuxila Cuicatec, Copainalá Zoque, Central Tarahumara).
Other solutions include:
- “to beg” or “to ask,” (full expression: “to ask with one’s heart coming out,” which leaves out selfish praying, for asking with the heart out leaves no place for self to hide) (Tzotzil)
- “to cause God to know” (Huichol)
- “to raise up one’s words to God” (implying an element of worship, as well as communication) (Miskito, Lacandon) (Source of this and all above: Bratcher / Nida)
- Shilluk: “speak to God” (source: Nida 1964, p. 237)
- Mairasi: “talk together with Great Above One (=God)” (source: Enggavoter, 2004)
- San Blas Kuna: “call to one’s Father” (source: Claudio and Marvel Iglesias in The Bible Translator 1951, p. 85ff.)
Ik: waan: “beg.” Terrill Schrock (in Wycliffe Bible Translators 2016, p. 93) explains (click or tap here to read more):
What do begging and praying have to do with each other? Do you beg when you pray? Do I?
“The Ik word for ‘visitor’ is waanam, which means ‘begging person.’ Do you beg when you go visiting? The Ik do. Maybe you don’t beg, but maybe when you visit someone, you are looking for something. Maybe it’s just a listening ear.
When the Ik hear that [my wife] Amber and I are planning trip to this or that place for a certain amount of time, the letters and lists start coming. As the days dwindle before our departure, the little stack of guests grows. ‘Please, sir, remember me for the allowing: shoes, jacket (rainproof), watch, box, trousers, pens, and money for the children. Thank you, sir, for your assistance.’
“A few people come by just to greet us or spend bit of time with us. Another precious few will occasionally confide in us about their problems without asking for anything more than a listening ear. I love that.
“The other day I was in our spare bedroom praying my list of requests to God — a nice list covering most areas of my life, certainly all the points of anxiety. Then it hit me: Does God want my list, or does he want my relationship?
“I decided to try something. Instead of reading off my list of requests to God, I just talk to him about my issues without any expectation of how he should respond. I make it more about our relationship than my list, because if our personhood is like God’s personhood, then maybe God prefers our confidence and time to our lists, letters, and enumerations.”
In Luang it is translated with different shades of meaning (click or tap here to read more):
- For Acts 1:14, 20:36, 21:5: kola ttieru-yawur nehla — “hold the waist and hug the neck.” (“This is the more general term for prayer and often refers to worship in prayer as opposed to petition. The Luang people spend the majority of their prayers worshiping rather than petitioning, which explains why this term often is used generically for prayer.”)
- For Acts 1:14, 28:9: sumbiani — “pray.” (“This term is also used generically for ‘prayer’. When praying is referred to several times in close proximity, it serves as a variation for kola ttieru-yawur nehla, in keeping with Luang discourse style. It is also used when a prayer is made up of many requests.”)
- For Acts 8:15, 12:5: polu-waka — “call-ask.” (“This is a term for petition that is used especially when the need is very intense.”)
Source: Kathy Taber in Notes on Translation 1/1999, p. 9-16.
Following are a number of back-translations of Romans 8:26:
- Uma: “So also the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not really know what we must say in our prayers. But the Holy Spirit accompanies us in uttering our requests to God with crying-out that is beyond the ability of human language.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
- Yakan: “And the Holy Spirit also helps us (incl.) when our (incl.) trusting in God is weak and he encourages our (incl.) liver. Because when we (incl.) pray/ask God and/but we (incl.) do not know what is right to ask for or how we (incl.) should ask, then the Holy Spirit in our (incl.) liver asks God for us (incl.) but/and we (incl.) don’t know as to how.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
- Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Another thing the Holy Spirit is doing is, as for us (incl.) who do not have wisdom, the Holy Spirit helps us because we do not know the proper things to pray for. However, the Holy Spirit, it’s possible that He is the one who stands before our Father God by means of beseeching which is not possible in human language.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
- Kankanaey: “It is not only our hope which helps us, but rather God’s Spirit also helps-us in our weakness. Because we don’t know how to pray correctly, but God’s Spirit speaks-with God for us with groans which can-not -be-spoken.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
- Tenango Otomi: “Concerning us, when we want to pray to God and we do not know what we will say to him, it is the Holy Spirit who helps us then. Even though it just be a groan we make in thinking of God, yet it is the Holy Spirit who makes it become a prayer to God, that word which has not come out to be said.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
See Holy Spirit.