inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Exo. 5:8)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). (Click or tap here to see more details)

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 the first part of this verse (“let us go” in English translations), translators typically select the exclusive form (excluding the addressee).

For both plural pronouns in this verse, the Jarai translation and the Adamawa Fulfulde translation use the exclusive pronoun, “since it excludes the king.”

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