Question:    (editor’s note:  this question has to do with a Setswana (Botswana) translation of the Bible, as I just finished visiting there)

Hi John.   Obviously this is a very bad translation but I thought it would be interesting for you to see it. I have read translations that make better sense but please let me know your thoughts.    1 Corinthians 7:36   Setswana translation:   Fa motho mongwe a gopola gore o direla ngwana wa gagwe wa kgarebane ka fa go sa tshwanelang, fa a tlodilwe ke lobaka lwa gagwe lwa go nyalwa; mme fa go tshwanetse jalo, a a dire ka fa o ratang ka teng; ga a leofe; a ba nyalane.

English version of the above translation:
If someone thinks he is not treating his daughter who is a virgin well, if his time to marry is overdue; and if it is fitting for him to, let him do as he desires; he is not sinning; let him marry her.
Can you explain the problem?
This is clearly not correct, but if I understand correctly, the Greek word for daughter used is ambiguous.   It can also mean virgin.
There are two common interpretations and which is right is not clear.  One is that Paul is saying that if a man is interested in a virgin and, if there is no reason to the contrary, he should consider marrying her.
The other is that if a man has a daughter who is a virgin and, if there is no reason to the contrary, he should see to her getting married (but obviously not to himself).   It is the ambiguity of the one word daughter/virgin which leads to the difficulty of translating.
John Oakes

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