white as snow

Come now, let us settle the matter, says the LORD. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Isaiah 1:18

This past week I sat in on some of the translation consulting sessions for the Koti language. Consultation is a very important part of the translation process. A specialist not involved in the translation goes over the text with the team of Koti speakers and asks questions to make sure the translation is clear and accurate.

In this case the Koti were reviewing the first 20 chapters of Exodus. It was quite interesting to see the issues addressed in such a meeting. For example–

  • Is each case of the pronoun “he” clear? Does it help the reader understand who the text is referring to?
  • How are the names of God going to be written? In English (and Portuguese) we write LORD in all caps to refer to YHWH. How should YHWH and Elohim and Adonai be expressed in Koti?

One of the most interesting discussions in my opinion was how to translate the metaphor “white as snow.” Snow is a fairly unfamiliar concept in Angoche, where the Koti live. (Right now it’s winter and 70 degrees!) Some of the options considered included sea foam, the inside of a coconut or cotton.