Appendix B. Translation Academy Topics to Be Cited in Notes¶
When a note discusses a translation issue that is addressed in translation Academy (tA), the note should end with a link to the pertinent article. The following is a list of the articles that the Notes should cite, with definition, a sample note for each issue, and a link to the corresponding article. (If an article title is highlighted in yellow, that indicates that the article is planned but has not yet been written.)
These articles are designed so that translators can access and refer to them in a just-in-time manner as they encounter these particular issues in the text. Translators and translation managers should also read and study the other articles in tA as general-education material in order to be equipped for their work.
Figures of Speech¶
Description: An apostrophe is a figure of speech in which a speaker directly addresses someone who is not there, or addresses a thing that is not a person.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem (Luke 13:34)
Jesus is figuratively addressing something that he knows cannot hear him, the city of Jerusalem, in order to show his listeners in a strong way how he feels about it. If this is confusing in your language, consider expressing this feeling by talking about Jerusalem. Alternate translation: “I am very upset with the city of Jerusalem” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-apostrophe]])
Description: An aside is a figure of speech in which someone who is speaking to a person or group pauses to speak confidentially to himself or to someone else about those to whom he had been speaking. The speaker does this to indicate in a strong way his thoughts or feelings about that person or group.
There is no understanding in him (Obadiah 1:7)
Yahweh could be saying this as an aside in order to express his evaluation of the people of Edom. If this would be confusing in your language, you can continue his address to Edom in the second person. Alternate translation: “There is no understanding in you” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-aside]])
Description: A doublet is a pair of words or very short phrases that mean the same thing and that are used in the same phrase. In the Bible, doublets are often used in poetry, prophecy, and sermons to emphasize an idea.
were bowing down and prostrating themselves (Esther 3:2)
These two phrases mean basically the same thing. The repetition is used to emphasize that the officials knew how important it was to obey the king’s command and to honor Haman as he said. If your language does not use repetition to do this, you could use one phrase and provide emphasis in another way. Alternate translation: “were bowing down all the way to the ground” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-doublet]])
Description: A euphemism is a mild or polite way of referring to something that is unpleasant or embarrassing. Its purpose is to avoid offending the people who hear or read it.
the time of my departure is here (2 Timothy 4:6)
Paul is referring to his death as a departure. This is a polite way of referring to something unpleasant. If this would be misunderstood in your language, use a different polite way of referring to this or you could state this plainly. Alternate translation: “soon I will die and no longer be with you” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-euphemism]])
Description: In hendiadys a single idea is expressed with two words connected with “and.” Also, the reader understands that one of the words further describes the other. That is, one word could be used to modify the other.
cheered and rejoiced (Esther 8:15)
This phrase expresses a single idea by using two words connected with and. The word rejoiced tells how the people of Susa cheered. If it would be more natural in your language, you could express this meaning with an equivalent phrase that does not use and. Alternate translation: “shouted joyfully.” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-hendiadys]])
Description: A hyperbole is a deliberate exaggeration used to indicate the speaker’s feeling or opinion about something.
May the king live to eternity (Nehemiah 2:3)
Here, to eternity is an exaggeration that Nehemiah uses to show honor to King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah knows that the king will not live to eternity. If this would be misunderstood in your language, you could use an equivalent expression from your language that shows honor. Alternate translation: “Long live the king” or “May you have a long life” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-hyperbole]])
Description: An idiom is a group of words that has a meaning that is different from what one would understand from the meanings of the individual words.
he has visited … his people (Luke 1:68)
Here, the term visited is an idiom meaning “helped.” If your readers would not understand this, you could use an equivalent idiom or use plain language. Alternate translation: “he has come to help … his people” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-idiom]])
Description: Irony is a figure of speech in which the sense that the speaker intends to communicate is actually the opposite of the literal meaning of the words.
unless we go and buy food for all these people (Luke 9:13)
The disciples are not making a serious suggestion here. They actually mean to communicate the opposite of the literal meaning of their words. If this would be misunderstood in your language, consider expressing the meaning plainly. Alternate translation: “and we certainly can not go and buy food for all these people” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-irony]])
Description: A litany is a figure of speech in which the various components of a thing are listed in a series of very similar statements. The speaker does this to indicate that what he is saying should be understood as comprehensive and without exceptions.
But you should not have … and you should not have … and you should not have (Obadiah 1:12)
Yahweh uses a repetitive series of sentences in verses 12–14 to show how badly the people of Edom have treated the people of Judah. This repetitive style of speaking or writing is called a “litany.” This is a list of the charges against the people of Edom. Yahweh goes on to say in verses 15 and 16 that he has found them guilty of all of these charges and that he will punish them. Use a form in your language that someone would use to list things that someone has done wrong. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-litany]])
Description: Litotes is an emphatic statement about something made by negating an opposite expression.
without neglect (Ezra 6:9)
Here the king uses a figure of speech that expresses a strong positive meaning by using a negative word together with a word that is the opposite of the intended meaning. If this is confusing in your language, you can express the meaning positively. Alternate translation: “with diligence” or “diligently” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-litotes]])
Description: Merism is a figure of speech in which a person refers to something by listing some of its parts or by speaking of two extreme parts of it.
from east and west, and from north and south (Luke 13:29)
Jesus speaks figuratively, using these directions in order to include everything in between. If this would be misunderstood in your language, you could use an equivalent expression or plain language. Alternate translation: “from all over the world” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-merism]])
Description: A metaphor is a figure of speech in which one concept is used in place of another, unrelated concept. This invites the hearer to think of what the unrelated concepts have in common. That is, metaphor is an implied comparison between two unrelated things.
have shipwrecked regarding the faith (1 Timothy 1:19)
Paul speaks figuratively of these people as if they were a ship that had sunk. He means that they no longer believe in Jesus and no longer live as his followers. If your readers would not understand what it means to be shipwrecked in this context, you could use an equivalent metaphor from your culture. Alternatively, you could express the meaning in a non-figurative way. Alternative translation: “no longer belong to Jesus” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-metaphor]])
Description: Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a thing or idea is called not by its own name, but by the name of something closely associated with it. A metonym is a word or phrase used as a substitute for something it is associated with.
something from his mouth (Luke 11:54)
Luke is figuratively describing something Jesus would say by association with his mouth, which he would use to say something. If your readers would not understand this, you could use an equivalent expression or plain language. Alternate translation: “something he said” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-metonymy]])
Description: In parallelism two phrases or clauses that are similar in structure or idea are used together. It is found throughout the whole of the Hebrew Bible, most commonly in the poetry of the books of Psalms and Proverbs.
Until when will be your journey? And when will you return? (Nehemiah 2:6)
These two phrases mean the same thing. The king says the same thing twice, in slightly different ways, to show that he is genuinely interested in Nehemiah’s situation. If saying the same thing twice might be confusing for your readers, you can combine the phrases into one. Alternate translation: “How long would you be away?” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-parallelism]])
Description: Personification is a figure of speech in which an idea or something that is not human is referred to as if it were a person and could do the things that people do or have the qualities that people have.
The pride of your heart has deceived you (Obadiah 1:3)
Here, pride is spoken of figuratively as though it were a person who could deceive someone. If this might be confusing for your readers, you could express this meaning in a non-figurative way. Alternate translation: “Because you are so proud, you have deceived yourselves” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-personification]])
Description: The predictive past is a form that some languages use to refer to things that will happen in the future. This is sometimes done in prophecy to show that the event will certainly happen.
your house has been left to you (Luke 13:35)
Jesus is figuratively using the past tense in order to refer to something that will happen in the future. He is doing this to show that the event will certainly happen. If this is confusing in your language, you could use the future tense. Alternate translation: “your house will be left to you alone” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-pastforfuture]])
Description: A rhetorical question is a question that is used for something other than getting information. Often it indicates the speaker’s attitude toward the topic or the listener. Often it is used for rebuking or scolding, but some languages have other purposes as well.
Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? (1 John 2:22)
John is using a rhetorical question here to emphasize the truth of what he is saying. If you would not use a rhetorical question for this purpose in your language, you could translate his words as a statement or an exclamation and communicate the emphasis in another way. Alternate translation: “Anyone who denies that Jesus is the Messiah is certainly a liar!” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-rquestion]])
Description: A simile is a comparison of two things that are not normally thought to be similar. It focuses on a particular trait that the two items have in common, and it includes words such as “like,” “as,” or “than” to make the comparison explicit.
has become like a wave of the sea, wind-blown and tossed (James 1:6)
The point of this comparison is that anyone who doubts will be like the waves in the ocean, which keep moving in different directions. If this would be misunderstood in your language, you could use an equivalent comparison or express this meaning in a non-figurative way. Alternate translation: “will keep changing his mind about what to do” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-simile]])
Description: Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which 1) the name of a part of something is used to refer to the whole thing, or 2) the name of a whole thing is used to refer to just one part of it.
our daily bread (Luke 11:3)
Jesus refers figuratively to bread, one common food, to mean food in general. If this would be misunderstood in your language, you could use an equivalent expression from your culture or plain language. Alternate translation: “the food we need that day” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-synecdoche]])
Description: Abstract nouns are nouns that refer to attitudes, qualities, events, or situations. These are things that cannot be seen or touched in a physical sense, such as happiness, weight, unity, friendship, health, and reason. This is a translation issue because some languages may express a certain idea with an abstract noun, while others would need a different way to express it.
Remember that nouns are words that refer to a person, place, thing, or idea. Abstract nouns are the nouns that refer to ideas. These can be attitudes, qualities, events, situations, or even relationships between those ideas. These are things that cannot be seen or touched in a physical sense, such as joy, peace, creation, goodness, contentment, justice, truth, freedom, vengeance, slowness, length, weight, and many, many more.
Some languages, such as Biblical Greek and English, use abstract nouns a lot. They provide a way of giving names to actions or qualities. With names, people who speak these languages can talk about the concepts as though they were things. For example, in languages that use abstract nouns, people can say, “I believe in the forgiveness of sin.” But some languages do not use abstract nouns very much. In these languages, speakers may not have the two abstract nouns “forgiveness” and “sin,” but they would express the same meaning in other ways. For example, they would express, “I believe that God is willing to forgive people after they have sinned,” by using verb phrases instead of nouns for those ideas.
we may have boldness (1 John 2:28)
If your language does not use an abstract noun for the idea of boldness, you could express the same idea in another way. Alternate translation: “we may be bold” or “we may act boldly” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-abstractnouns]])
the love that you have for all the saints (Colossians 1:4)
If your language does not use an abstract noun for the idea of love, you could express the same idea with a verbal form. Alternate translation: “how much you love all the saints” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-abstractnouns]])
Active or Passive¶
Description: Some languages use both active and passive sentences. In active sentences, the subject does the action. In passive sentences, the subject is the one that receives the action. Here are some examples with their subjects bolded:
- Active: My father built the house in 2010.
- Passive: The house was built in 2010.
Translators whose languages do not use passive sentences will need to know how they can translate passive sentences that they find in the Bible. Other translators will need to decide when to use a passive sentence and when to use the active form.
Some languages have both active and passive forms of sentences.
- In the active form, the subject does the action and is always mentioned.
- In the passive form, the action is done to the subject, and the one who does the action is not always mentioned.
In the examples of active and passive sentences below, we have bolded the subject.
- active: My father built the house in 2010.
- passive: The house was built by my father in 2010.
- passive: The house was built in 2010. (This does not tell who did the action.)
they knew that this work was done by our God (Nehemiah 6:16)
If your language does not use the passive form in this way, you can state this in active form or in another way that is natural in your language. Alternate translation: “they knew that our God had done this work” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-activepassive]])
it was hidden from them (Luke 9:45)
If your language does not use the passive form in this way, you could express the idea in active form or in another way that is natural in your language. If you must state who did the action, Luke implies that “God” did it. Alternate translation: “God hid it from them” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-activepassive]])
Description: A collective noun is a singular noun that refers to a group of something. Examples: a family, clan, or tribe is a group of people who are related to each other; a flock is a group of birds or sheep; a fleet is a group of ships; and an army is a group of soldiers.
Many collective nouns are used exclusively as a singular replacement for a group as in the examples above. Frequently in the Bible the name of an ancestor is used, through a process of metonymy, as a collective noun referencing the group of his descendants. In the Bible, sometimes the singular noun will take a singular verb form, other times it will take a plural verb form. This may depend on how the author is thinking about the group, or whether the action is being done as a group or as individuals.
The word crowd is a singular noun that refers to a group of people. If your language does not use singular nouns in that way, you can use a different expression. Alternate translation: “a group of people” or “many people” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/grammar-collectivenouns]])
Distinguishing versus Informing or Reminding with relative clauses¶
Description: In some languages, phrases that modify a noun can be used with the noun for two different purposes. They can either (1) distinguish the noun from other similar items, or (2) they can give more information about the noun. That information could be new to the reader, or a reminder about something the reader might already know. Other languages use modifying phrases with a noun only for distinguishing the noun from other similar things. When people who speak these languages hear a modifying phrase along with a noun, they assume that its function is to distinguish one item from another similar item.
Some languages use a comma to mark the difference between (1) making a distinction between similar items and (2) giving more information about an item. Without the comma, the sentence below communicates that it is making a distinction:
- Mary gave some of the food to her sister who was very thankful.
- If her sister was usually thankful, the phrase “who was thankful” could distinguish this sister of Mary’s from another sister who was not usually thankful.
With the comma, the sentence is giving more information:
- Mary gave some of the food to her sister, who was very thankful.
- This same phrase can be used to give us more information about Mary’s sister. It tells us about how Mary’s sister responded when Mary gave her the food. In this case it does not distinguish one sister from another sister.
the household of God, which is the church of the living God (1 Timothy 3:15)
This phrase gives us further information about the household of God. It is not making a distinction between a household of God that is the church and one that is not the church. If this is not understood in your language, you can make the relationship between these phrases more clear. Alternate translation: “the household of God, that is, the church of the living God” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-distinguish]])
A double negative occurs when a clause has two words that each express the meaning of “not.” Double negatives mean very different things in different languages. To translate sentences that have double negatives accurately and clearly, you need to know what a double negative means in the Bible and how to express this idea in your language.
Description: Negative words are words that have in them the meaning “not.” Examples in English are “no,” “not,” “none,” “no one,” “nothing,” “nowhere,” “never,” “nor,” “neither,” and “without.” Also, some words have prefixes or suffixes that mean “not,” such as “un,” “im,” and “less,” in the following words: “unhappy,” “impossible,” and “useless.” Some other kinds of words also have a negative meaning, such as “lack” or “reject,” or even “fight” or “evil.”
A double negative occurs when a clause has two words that each have a negative meaning.
- We did this not because we have no authority … (2 Thessalonians 3:9a ULT)
- And this was not done without an oath! (Hebrews 7:20a ULT)
- Be sure of this—the wicked person will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 11:21a ULT) (The word “unpunished” is a negative word because of the prefix “un” which turns the “punished” into a negative.)
every word will not be impossible for God (Luke 1:37)
If this double negative would be misunderstood in your language, you could translate it as a positive statement. Alternate translation: “every word will be possible for God” or “God is able to do anything that he says” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-doublenegatives]])
Description: An ellipsis occurs when a speaker or writer leaves out one or more words that normally should be in the sentence. The speaker or writer does this because he knows that the hearer or reader will understand the meaning of the sentence and supply the words in his mind when he hears or reads the words that are there. For example:
- So the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. (Psalm 1:5 ULT)
There is ellipsis in the second part because “nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous” is not a complete sentence. The speaker assumes that the hearer will understand what it is that sinners will not do in the assembly of the righteous by filling in the action from the previous clause. With the action filled in, the complete sentence would read:
- So the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor will sinners stand in the assembly of the righteous.
English has a punctuation symbol which is also called an ellipsis. It is a series of three dots (…) used to indicate an intentional omission of a word, phrase, sentence or more from text without altering its original meaning. This translationAcademy article is not about the punctuation mark, but about the concept of omission of words that normally should be in the sentence.
Two Types of Ellipsis
- A Relative Ellipsis happens when the reader has to supply the omitted word or words from the context. Usually the word is in the previous sentence, as in the example above.
- An Absolute Ellipsis happens when the omitted word or words are not in the context, but the phrases are common enough in the language that the reader is expected to supply what is missing from this common usage or from the nature of the situation.
And we justly (Luke 23:41)
The second criminal is leaving out some of the words that a sentence would need in many languages to be complete. If your readers might misunderstand this, you could supply these words from the context. Alternate translation: “And we are receiving this punishment justly” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-ellipsis]])
Generic Noun Phrases¶
Description: Generic noun phrases refer to people or things in general rather than to specific individuals or things. This happens frequently in proverbs, because proverbs tell about things that are true about people in general.
- Can a man walk on hot coals without scorching his feet? So is the man who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; the one who touches her will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 6:28-29 ULT)
The phrases in bold above do not refer to a specific man. They refer to any man who does these things.
Look at the fig tree (Luke 21:29)
Jesus is speaking of these trees in general, not of one particular fig tree. If this would be misunderstood in your language, use a more natural phrase. Alternate translation: “Consider fig trees” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-genericnoun]])
Go and Come¶
Description: Different languages have different ways of determining whether to use the words “go” or “come” and whether to use the words “take” or “bring” when talking about motion. For example, when saying that they are approaching a person who has called them, English speakers say “I’m coming,” while Spanish speakers say “I’m going.” You will need to study the context in order to understand what is meant by the words “go” and “come” (and also “take” and “bring”), and then translate those words in a way that your readers will understand which direction people are moving in.
he came … into the temple (Luke 2:27)
Your language may say “went” rather than came in contexts such as this. Use whichever is more natural. Alternate translation: “he went … into the temple” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-go]])
grammar-honorifics (Article does not exist yet)
Description: In some languages an adjective can be used to refer to a class of things that the adjective describes. When it does, it acts like a noun. For example, the word “rich” is an adjective. Here are two sentences that show that “rich” is an adjective.
- The rich man had huge numbers of flocks and herds. (2 Samuel 12:2 ULT)
The adjective “rich” comes before the word “man” and describes “man.”
- He will not be rich; his wealth will not last. (Job 15:29a ULT)
The adjective “rich” comes after the verb “be” and describes “He.”
Here is a sentence that shows that “rich” can also function as a noun.
- The rich must not give more than the half shekel, and the poor must not give less. (Exodus 30:15b ULT)
In Exodus 30:15, the word “rich” acts as a noun in the phrase “the rich,” and it refers to rich people. The word “poor” also acts as a noun and refers to poor people.
the righteous (1 Timothy 1:9)
Paul is using the adjective righteous as a noun in order to describe a group of people. Your language may use adjectives in the same way. If not, you could translate this with a noun phrase. Alternate translation: “people who are righteous” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-nominaladj]])
Order of Events¶
Description: In the Bible, events are not always told in the order in which they occurred. Sometimes the author wanted to discuss something that happened at an earlier time than the event that he just talked about. This can be confusing to the reader.
dragged away and enticed (James 1:14)
Since the Greek word that ULT translates as enticed often means to use bait to trap prey, James may be stressing the result (the captured prey being dragged away) by speaking of it before the method that was used to achieve it (baiting a trap). If this is confusing in your language, you could make the order of events clear. Alternate translation: “dragged away after being enticed” or “enticed and dragged away” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-events]])
Possession (and genitives)¶
Description: (see link below)
by the word of truth (James 1:18)
James is using the possessive form to describe a word that is characterized by truth. If this is not clear in your language, you could use the adjective “true” instead of the noun “truth.” Alternate translation: “by the true word” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-possession]])
When Masculine Words Include Women¶
In the Bible, sometimes the words “men,” “brothers,” and “sons” refer only to men. At other times, those words include both men and women. In those places where the writer meant both men and women, you (the translator) need to translate it in a way that does not limit the meaning to men.
Description: In some languages a word that normally refers to men can also be used in a more general way to refer to both men and women. For example, the Bible sometimes says “brothers” when it refers to both brothers and sisters.
Also in some languages, the masculine pronouns “he” and “him” can be used in a more general way for any person if it is not important whether the person is a man or a woman. In the example below, the pronouns “he,” “himself,” and “his” are not limited to males.
- Then said Jesus to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24 ULT)
his brother (1 John 2:9)
Although the term brother is masculine, John is using the word here in a generic sense that includes both men and women. Alternate translation: “a fellow believer” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-gendernotations]])
Pronouns When to Use Them¶
while he was still speaking (Luke 22:60) The pronoun he refers to Peter, not to the man who was insisting that Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples. If this might confuse your readers, you could say the meaning explicitly. Alternate translation: “while Peter was speaking” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/writing-pronouns]])
he himself stood (Luke 24:36) Luke uses the word himself to emphasize how surprising it was when Jesus actually appeared to this group. Use a way that is natural in your language to indicate this surprise. Alternate translation: “none other than Jesus stood” or “Jesus, the very person, stood” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-rpronouns]])
First, Second or Third Person¶
If it is good to the king (Esther 5:4) Esther is addressing the king in the third person as a sign of respect. If this is confusing in your language, you can use the second person and convey the respect in another way. Alternate translation: “If it seems like a good idea to you, O king” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-123person]])
Exclusive and Inclusive ‘We’¶
we saw … with us (Luke 9:49) When John says we, he is speaking of himself and some other disciples who spoke to this man, so we would be exclusive. However, when John says us, he seems to be referring to the disciples and Jesus traveling together, and since he is speaking to Jesus, us would be inclusive. Your language may require you to mark these forms. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-exclusive]])
Forms of ‘You’ – Singular vs. Plural¶
you (1 Timothy 1:3) In this letter, with one exception, the words you, your, and yourself refer to Timothy and so are singular. A note will discuss the one exception in [6:21](../06/21.md) where “you” is plural. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-yousingular]])
Forms of ‘You’ – Dual/Plural¶
you have gone … you have seen (Luke 7:22) Since Jesus is speaking to two men, you would be dual in both of these instances, if your language uses that form. Otherwise, the word would be plural. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-youdual]])
Forms of ‘You’ – Singular to a Crowd¶
you are going … your … you (Luke 12:58) Even though Jesus is speaking to the crowd, he is addressing an individual situation, so you and your are singular throughout this verse. But if the singular form would not be natural in your language for someone who was speaking to a group of people, you could use the plural forms of you and your in your translation. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-youcrowd]])
Forms of ‘You’ – Formal or Informal¶
I thank you, Father (Luke 10:21) Use your best judgment about whether the formal or informal form of you would be more natural in your language here. Jesus is speaking as an adult son would speak to a father with whom he has a close relationship. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-youformal]])
Quotations and Quote Margins¶
Description: (See link below)
prophesied, saying (Luke 1:67) Consider natural ways of introducing direct quotations in your language. Alternate translation: “prophesied, and this is what he said” or “prophesied this:” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/writing-quotations]])
But just as it is written (1 Cor 2:9) In Paul’s culture, just as it is written is a normal way to introduce a quotation from an important text, in this case, the Old Testament book written by Isaiah the prophet. If your readers would not understand this, you could use a comparable phrase that indicates that Paul is quoting from an important text. Alternate translation: “as it can be read in the Old Testament” or “according to Isaiah the prophet” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/writing-quotations]])
for Isaiah had again said (John 12:39 ULT) This phrase introduces a quotation from the Old Testament book written by Isaiah the prophet ([Isaiah 6:10](../../isa/06/10.md)) which occurs in the next verse. If your readers would not understand this, you could use a comparable phrase that indicates that John is quoting from an important text. Alternate translation: “for Isaiah had again said in the Old Testament” or “for according to Isaiah” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/writing-quotations]])
Direct and Indirect Quotations¶
Description: There are two kinds of quotations: direct quotations and indirect quotations.
A direct quotation occurs when someone reports what another person said from the viewpoint of that original speaker. People usually expect that this kind of quotation will represent the original speaker’s exact words. In the example below, John would have said “I” when referring to himself, so the narrator, who is reporting John’s words, uses the word “I” in the quotation to refer to John. To show that these are John’s exact words, many languages put the words between quotation marks:“.”
- John said, “I do not know at what time I will arrive.”
An indirect quotation occurs when a speaker reports what someone else said, but in this case, the speaker is reporting it from his own point of view instead and not from the original person’s point of view. This kind of quotation usually contains changes in pronouns, and it often includes changes in time, in word choices, and in length. In the example below, the narrator refers to John as “he” in the quotation and uses the word “would” to replace the future tense, indicated by “will.”
- John said that he did not know at what time he would arrive.
commanding them to tell this to no one (Luke 9:21) If it would be more natural in your language, you could express this as a direct quotation. Alternate translation: “commanding them, ‘Tell this to no one’” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-quotations]])
Description: Some languages use quotation marks to mark off direct quotes from the rest of the text. English uses the mark “ immediately before a quote and ” immediately after it.
- John said, “I do not know when I will arrive.”
Quotation marks are not used with indirect quotes.
- John said that he did not know when he would arrive.
When there are several layers of quotations inside of other quotations, it might be hard for readers to understand who is saying what. Alternating two kinds of quotation marks can help careful readers to keep track of them. In English, the outermost quotation has double quote marks, and the next quotation within it has single marks. If there is a third embedded quote, that quotation again has double quotation marks.
- Mary said, “John said, ‘I do not know when I will arrive.’ ”
- Bob said, “Mary told me, ‘John said, “I do not know when I will arrive.” ’ ”
Some languages use other kinds of quotation marks: Here are some examples: ‚ ‘ ’ „ “ ” ‹ › « » ⁊ — .
To Darius the king: All peace (Ezra 5:7) Here the book begins to quote the letter that Tattenai and his associates sent to King Darius. It may be helpful to your readers to indicate this with an opening quotation mark or with whatever other punctuation or convention your language uses to indicate the beginning of a quotation. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-quotemarks]])
Quotes within Quotes¶
Description: A quotation may have a quote within it, and quotes that are inside of other quotes can also have quotes within them. When a quote has quotes within it, we say there are “layers” of quotation, and each of the quotes is a layer. When there are many layers of quotes inside of quotes, it can be hard for listeners and readers to know who is saying what. Some languages use a combination of direct quotes and indirect quotes to make it easier.
she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice together with me, for I have found the drachma that I lost’ (Luke 15:9) If the direct quotation inside a direct quotation would be confusing in your language, you could translate the second direct quotation as an indirect quotation. Alternate translation: “she calls together her friends and neighbors and tells them to rejoice with her because she has found the drachma that she lost” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-quotesinquotes]])
Everyone who goes beyond and does not remain in the teaching of Christ does not have God (2 John 1:9) If it would be more natural in your language, you could reverse the order of these phrases. Alternate translation: “Everyone who does not remain in the teaching of Christ but goes beyond it does not have God” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-infostructure]])
Statements – Other Uses¶
he will ask (1 John 5:16) John is using a future statement to give an instruction. If this is confusing in your language, you can use a more natural form for instruction. Alternate translation: “he should pray” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-declarative]])
Imperatives – Other Uses¶
Give us (Luke 11:3) This is an imperative, but it communicates a polite request rather than a command. Use a form in your language that communicates a polite request. It may be helpful to add an expression such as “please” to make this clear. Alternate translation: “Please give us” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-imperative]])
Be clean (Luke 5:13) This is an imperative, but this was not a command that the man was capable of obeying. Instead, this was a command that directly caused the man to be healed. Use a form in your language that would be used in this type of situation. Alternate translation: “I heal you from your leprosy” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-imperative]])
Aha, Aha (Psalm 35:21) Aha is an exclamation word that communicates triumph, usually over an enemy. Use an exclamation that is natural in your language for communicating this. Alternate translation: “Hurray for us!” or “Take that!” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-exclamations]])
he has ten minas (Luke 19:25) If the plain statement form for this seems unnatural, you could translate this as an exclamation. Alternate translation: “he already has ten minas!” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-exclamations]])
And now (Ruth 3:12) And now indicates that what follows is something else important that Ruth should pay attention to. Alternate translation: “You also need to know that” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/grammar-connect-words-phrases]])
Then (Ezra 3:1) The word then indicates that the events the story will now relate came after the event it has just described. If it would be helpful to your readers, you could show this relationship by using a fuller phrase. Alternate translation: “Once this group had returned to Judah” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/grammar-connect-time-sequential]])
And (Nehemiah 4:23) In this verse Nehemiah is describing something else that was also true of the conditions in Jerusalem during the time period he is describing. You can make this clear in your translation with an appropriate connecting word or phrase. Alternate translation: “At that time” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/grammar-connect-time-simultaneous]])
And the people were expecting (Luke 3:15) Luke is providing this background information to help readers understand what happens next. Use a natural way in your language for introducing background information. Alternate translation: “Now the people were expecting” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/grammar-connect-time-background]])
Goal or Purpose Clauses¶
for us to be (James 1:18) This phrase introduces a purpose clause. James is stating the purpose for which God desired to give us birth. Use a natural way in your language for introducing a purpose clause. Alternate translation (without a comma preceding): “so that we would be” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/grammar-connect-logic-goal]])
he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes (1 John 2:11) If it would be more natural in your language, you could reverse the order of these phrases, since the second phrase gives the reason for the result that the first phrase describes. Alternate translation: “because the darkness has blinded his eyes, he does not know where he is going” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/grammar-connect-logic-result]])
And (Luke 14:18) What follows the word And here is in contrast to what was expected, that all the invited guests would come to the dinner. Instead, the guests all declined to come. Use a natural way in your language for introducing a contrast. Alternate translation: “But” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/grammar-connect-logic-contrast]])
If you know that he is righteous (1 John 2:29) John is speaking as if this were a hypothetical possibility, but he means that it is actually true. If your language does not state something as a condition if it is certain or true, and if your readers might misunderstand and think that what John is saying is not certain, then you can translate his words as an affirmative statement. Alternate translation: “Since you know that God is righteous” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/grammar-connect-condition-fact]])
If this man were a prophet, he would know who and of what type the woman is who is touching him, that she is a sinner (Luke 7:39) This Pharisee is making a conditional statement that sounds hypothetical, but he is already convinced that the condition is not true. He has concluded that Jesus must not be a prophet, because he allowed this sinful woman to touch him and a prophet would have known that she was sinful and not allowed that. Use a natural form in your language for introducing a condition that the speaker believes is not true. Alternate translation: “Jesus must not be a prophet, because if he were, he would know that the woman who is touching him is a sinner” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/grammar-connect-condition-contrary]])
if anyone competes, he is not crowned if he has not competed lawfully (2 Timothy 2:5) Paul is using a hypothetical situation to teach Timothy. Alternate translation: “suppose an athlete did not compete by the rules. Then he would not be crowned” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/grammar-connect-condition-hypothetical]])
he did not allow anyone … except (Luke 8:51) If it would appear in your language that Luke was making a statement here and then contradicting it, you could reword this to avoid using an exception clause. Alternate translation: “Jesus only allowed” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/grammar-connect-exceptions]])
But Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34) See the discussion of textual issues at the end of the General Notes to this chapter to decide whether to include this sentence in your translation. The next four notes below discuss translation issues in the sentence, for those who decide to include it. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-textvariants]])
the rooster will not crow today before you deny three times that you know me (Luke 22:34) A rooster is a bird that calls out loudly around the time the sun comes up. If your readers would not be familiar with this bird, you could use the name of a bird in your area that calls out or sings just before dawn, or you could use a general expression. Alternate translation: “before the birds begin to sing in the morning, you will deny three times that you know me” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-unknown]])
Copy or Borrow Words¶
Akeldama (Acts 1:29)
This is an Aramaic word. Luke spelled it out using Greek letters so his readers would know how it sounded and then he told what it meant, Field of Blood. In your translation you can spell it the way it sounds in your language and then explain its meaning. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-transliterate]])
How to Translate Names¶
Obadiah (Obadiah 1:1) Some English translations call this prophet Abdias, but Obadiah is the form of his name most commonly used in English. Use the form of the name that is in your source language or a similar form that sounds like a name in your language. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-names]])
Note: Since some languages have different conventions for the names of men and women, it is helpful to specify whether a name is that of a man or a woman. Also, you do not need to write a separate note for each name in a list of names; you can write a single note for an entire verse.
Carpus (2 Timothy 4:13) This is the name of a man. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-names]])
Claudia (2 Timothy 4:21) This is the name of a woman. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-names]])
Hashum … Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh … Shimei (Ezra 10:33) These are the names of eight men. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-names]])
When to Make Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information Explicit¶
Assumed knowledge and implied information are part of the communication of Scripture. As such they can be made explicit for readers who do not share the same knowledge that the original readers shared. However, when this information is more than a phrase, it may skew the message and is better included as a footnote.
who stood at a distance (Luke 17:12, assumed knowledge) Luke assumes that his readers will know that the lepers were not reluctant to engage Jesus. Rather, this was a respectful gesture, since they were not allowed to approach other people. If it would be helpful to your readers, you could indicate that explicitly. It may be helpful to make this a separate sentence. Alternate translation: “They stood at a distance, as they were required to do” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-explicit]])
And the one who blew the ram’s horn was beside me (Nehemiah 4:18, implicit information) The implication is that Nehemiah stationed this person next to him so that he could sound a danger signal if needed. If it would be helpful to your readers, you could say that explicitly. Alternate translation: “And I stationed someone next to me who would blow a ram’s horn if we needed a danger signal” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-explicit]])
Everyone who commits sin also commits lawlessness. Indeed, sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4, assumed knowledge, suggested footnote) If it would be helpful to your readers, you could explain why John gives this warning. See the discussion of “sin” in Part 3 of the Introduction to 1 John. Suggested footnote: “The false teachers were saying that it does not matter what people do in their physical bodies. In this way, they were tempting the people to sin.”
his brothers (Luke 8:19) These were Jesus’ younger brothers, the other sons of Mary and Joseph who were born after Jesus. Since the Father of Jesus was God and their father was Joseph, they were actually his half-brothers. That detail is not normally translated, but if your language has a specific word for a man’s younger brother, it would be appropriate to use it here. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-kinship]])
When to Make Explicit Information Implicit¶
before he was conceived in the womb (Luke 2:21) It might seem that the phrase conceived in the womb contains redundant information that would be unnatural to express in your language. If so, you can abbreviate it. Alternate translation: “before he was conceived” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-explicitinfo]])
When to Keep Implicit Information Implicit¶
you concealed these things (Luke 10:21) By these things, Jesus likely means his identity as God’s Son and God’s identity as his Father: He says of those identities in the next verse that only people to whom he reveals them can understand them, just as he says here that these things are revealed only to certain people. Since the expression is explained in the next verse, you do not need to explain its meaning further here. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-extrainfo]])
50 cubits high (Esther 5:14) If it would be helpful to your readers, you could express this in terms of modern measurements, either in the text or a footnote. Alternate translation: “25 meters high” or “75 feet high” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-bdistance]])
100 cors of wheat (Ezra 7:22) A cor was equivalent to about 220 liters. If it would be helpful to your readers, you could express the quantity in modern measurements, as UST does, “500 bushels of wheat.” Alternatively, to help your readers recognize that the biblical writings come from long ago when people used different measurements, you could express the amount using the ancient measurement, the cor, and explain the equivalent in modern measurements in a footnote. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-bvolume]])
it weighed a talent (1 Chronicles 20:2) If it would be helpful to your readers, you could express this in terms of modern measurements, either in the text or a footnote. Alternate translation: “it weighted 34 kilograms” or “it weighed 75 pounds” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-bweight]])
forty silver shekels (Nehemiah 5:15) In ancient times, a silver shekel weighed about 11 grams or about a third of an ounce. You could try to express the equivalent in terms of modern money values, but if you did, that could cause your Bible translation to become outdated and inaccurate, since those values can change over time. Instead, you could say something general like “40 silver coins” or give the equivalent weight or use the biblical term in the text and explain the weight in a footnote. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-bmoney]])
the third day of the month of Adar (Ezra 6:15) You could convert the Hebrew day and month into an approximate date on the calendar that your culture uses. However, the Jews used a lunar calendar, so if you use a solar calendar, the date will be different every year and the translation will not be entirely accurate. So you may just want to give the number of the day and the name of the month on the Hebrew calendar, and say approximately what time of year that is on your calendar in a footnote. Suggested footnote: “The month of Adar was in the February—March time of the year.” Alternate translation: “by the third day of the month of Adar” (See: rc://en/ta/man/translate/[[translate-hebrewmonths]])
10,000 talents of silver (Esther 3:9) The talent was the largest unit of money and 10,000 was the largest number in the counting system of the time. It is possible that Haman used these terms to represent a very large, but not precise, amount. Alternate translation: “a huge amount of silver” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-numbers]])
in the second year … in the second month (Ezra 3:8) If your language does not use ordinal numbers, you can use cardinal numbers here. Alternate translation: “in month two of year two” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-ordinal]])
a third of a shekel (Nehemiah 10:32) A third means one part out of three equal parts. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-fraction]])
shake off the dust from your feet (Luke 9:5) This action was an expression of strong rejection in this culture. It showed that someone did not want even the dust of a town to remain on him. If there is a gesture with similar meaning in your culture, you could consider using it here in your translation. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-symaction]])
Writing Styles (Discourse)¶
Grace, mercy, and peace from (2 Timothy 1:2) After stating his name and the name of the person to whom he is writing, Paul adds a blessing to Timothy. Use a form that people would recognize as a blessing in your language. Alternate translation: “May you experience kindness, mercy, and peace within you from” or “I pray that you will have grace, mercy, and peace from” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-blessing]])
it finds it swept out and put in order (Luke 11:25) Jesus speaks about the person whom the demon left by continuing the metaphor of a house. You could express this metaphor as a simile if that would be helpful to your readers. Alternate translation: “the demon finds that the person it left is like a house that someone has swept clean and organized by putting everything where it belongs” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-exmetaphor]])
Marking Background Information¶
he was passing through between Samaria and Galilee (Luke 17:11) Luke provides this background information about Jesus’ location to help readers understand what happens in this episode, in which Jesus engages a group of men that includes both Jews and at least one Samaritan. Use the natural form in your language for expressing background information. Alternate translation: “Jesus was traveling along the border between Samaria and Galilee” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/writing-background]])
Marking End of Story¶
And news about him went out (Luke 4:37) This is a comment about what happened after the story as a result of the events within the story itself. Use the natural form in your language for expressing the conclusion of a story. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/writing-endofstory]])
Marking Hypothetical Situations¶
If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar (1 John 1:10) John is using a hypothetical situation to help his readers recognize the serious implications of disregarding sin. Use the natural form in your language for expressing a hypothetical situation. Alternate translation: “Suppose we say that we have not sinned. Then we are calling God a liar” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-hypo]])
Introduction of a New Event¶
After these things (Esther 2:1) This introduces a new event that happened some time after the events the story has just related. The story does not say how long after those events this new event happened. Use the natural form in your language for introducing a new event. Alternate translation: “Some time later” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/writing-newevent]])
Introduction of New and Old Participants¶
Ezra the scribe (Nehemiah 8:1) This introduces Ezra as a new character in the story. Use the natural form in your language for introducing a new character. The expression “the scribe” identifies him as a teacher who had carefully studied the Law of Moses. Since he is a new participant, if it would be helpful to your readers, you could call him something like “a man named Ezra, who was a teacher of the Law of Moses” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/writing-participants]])
There were two debtors (Luke 7:41) To help Simon the Pharisee understand what he wants to teach him, Jesus tells a story. If it would be helpful to your readers, you could say that explicitly. Alternate translation: “Then Jesus told Simon this story to help him understand: ‘There were two debtors’” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-parables]])
I am writing to you, little children (1 John 2:12) In order to show that John is writing something like poetry in this verse and the next two verses, some translations set the statements in these verses farther to the right than the rest of the text, and they begin a new line at the start of each statement. You could do this, or use a natural form in your language for expressing poetry. (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/writing-poetry]])
Politeness Issues (article does not exist yet)¶
People who are well do not have need of a physician, but those who have sickness (Luke 5:31) Jesus begins his response by quoting or creating a proverb, a short saying about something that is generally true in life. This proverb draws a figurative comparison: Just as sick people need to see a doctor to be healed, so sinners need to see Jesus in order to be forgiven and restored. But since Jesus explains the comparison in the next verse, you do not need to explain it here. Rather, you can translate the proverb itself in a way that will be recognized as a proverb and be meaningful in your language and culture. Alternate translation: “People who are well do not need to see a doctor; people who are sick do” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/writing-proverbs]])
seven spirits (Revelation 1:4) The number seven is often used in the Bible as a symbol for completeness and perfection. Here, the seven spirits could refer to: (1) the Spirit of God, which is described with seven attributes in [Isaiah 11:2](../../isa/11/02.md). Alternate translation: “the sevenfold Holy Spirit” (2) seven individual spirits who serve God, which might be the “seven angels” in [8:2](../08/02.md). Alternate translation: “the seven angelic spirits” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/writing-symlanguage]])
For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out from the man (Luke 8:29) If your language would put the reason before the result, you could create a verse bridge by moving this sentence to the previous verse, after the man bows down to Jesus but before he speaks. You would need to change the tense of the verb to fit the context. You would then present the combined verses as 28–29. Alternate translation: “Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man” (See: rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-versebridge)