Chaz writes:When we still lived in Colombia,one day we took some Emberas to a nearby upstream from the city. I took advantage of the occasion to learn some new words. I picked up a rock and tossed it high over the river and asked one of the men what I had done with the rock. He said “tab’arisia,”meaning ‘tossed’or ‘lobbed’. Then I got another rock and threw it hard at one of the big rocks in the middle of the river. The man said what I had done with that rock was “b’atatasia,”the same word as shooting a gun.
Years later when I applied these findings to the David and Goliath story in 1 Samuel 17,I said that David “b’atatasia”the rock with his sling at Goliath. Wait a minute,no,that’s wrong,says the final revision committee. The right word for that is “tab’arisia.”What? Lobbed? Tossed? No,I said,he shot that rock hard and it killed the Philistine. No,they said,the word you are talking about means shooting with a rifle. Oh,well. Colombia speech is different from Panama speech. Or did I just get the words wrong in the first place?
Then we moved on to 1 Samuel 18,where Saul begins to exhibit jealousy towards David and tries to spear him to the wall of his palace. The word we had,“su-”,means to poke or spear. However,Saul threw his spear across the room,so that required a different word,which is made up of the root for “bump”! It didn’t make sense,but Cesar,an older man,has an excellent vocabulary and came up with that word. The rest of the committee quickly agreed with him. However,in a later chapter Saul tries to thrust his spear to pin David to the wall and that required a different word yet. In chapter 26,when David has the opportunity to spear Saul in his sleep,our original attempt was OK,as long as a suffix was added that indicates a punctiliar action.
We are done with 1 Samuel,but it always takes checking a translation with native speakers who didn’t help with the drafting to be sure it sounds right and the meaning is clear.