inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Eph. 1:11)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 this verse, translators typically select the inclusive form (including the reader of the letter). The Tok Pisin translation uses the exclusive form, though.

Source: SIL International Translation Department (1999)

dual vs. plural (Matt. 20:22)

Many languages in the world distinguish between plural and dual (and sometimes trial) pronouns (for instance, “you” specifically addressing many, two, or three people).

In Matt. 20:22 (“You do not know what you are asking…” in one English translation) it is left open whether “you” refers to James and John or James and John and their mother (who had asked the questions preceding Jesus’s answers).

While one Fijian translation uses a trial and the Wantoat uses a plural (both indicating that the mother is included), the Bislama translators (in the Nyutesteman long Bislama of 1980) and the Tok Pisin translators use a dual (indicating that the mother is not included).

One of the translators explains: “Here, because of differences between this Matthew passage and the parallel passage which begins at Mark 10:35, the translator must enter into the issues of the so-called ‘Synoptic Problem’ when deciding how many people Jesus is addressing. I suggest the following guidelines for making a decision here and in the passage considered below: a single real historical event is recounted by both Mark and Matthew, both without error, although each with their own selection of material and emphasis. So what do we make of the fact that Matthew has James and John’s mother asking the question, whereas Mark does not mention her at all, having the two men themselves ask it? We conclude that she must have been there, since Matthew says she was; but she was not important in Mark’s eyes, and so he abbreviates her out of his account. Now the answer Jesus gave to the question is identical in the Greek text of the two gospels; and it must have had only one intention, even though as it stands in Greek, it is ambiguous as to dual or trial reference. I suggest that although the mother asked the question, Jesus either perceived that she was merely a ‘front’ for the two men, or else his primary interest was in them anyway, and so he bypasses the mother and makes his answer directly to them. This is certainly the way Mark saw the situation.”

Source: Ross McKerras in Notes on Translation 2/1 1988, p. 53-56.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Heb. 2:5)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 this verse, translators typically select the exclusive form (excluding the readers of the letter).

In Huautla Mazatec and Tok Pisin, however, the translators selected the inclusive pronoun.

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Luke 7:5)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 this verse (“he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue” in English translations), Yagua translators selected the exclusive forms. The translators justify this by saying “Jesus was also of the Jews’ nation and could have been included in this ‘our.’ However, the ‘us’ and ‘our’ of the second clause are doubtless exclusive and we guess since Jesus was not a native of Capernaum that these Jews probably would have used the exclusive in the first clause.”

Source: Paul Powlison in Notes on Translation with Drills, p. 165ff.

Pickett argues that “the first ‘our’ is inclusive, referring to the Jewish nation of which both the speakers and Jesus were a part, But the second ‘our’ is no doubt exclusive, i.e. the synagogue in their town, of which Jesus was not a part.”

Source: Velma B. Pickett in The Bible Translator 1964, p. 88f.

SIL International Translation Department (1999) notes that he second pronoun could be either inclusive or exclusive. The Tok Pisin translation uses the inclusive for the first occurrence and exclusive for the second.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (2Cor. 1:5)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 this verse, translators typically select the exclusive form that only refers to Paul himself. SIL International notes that an inclusive that includes the reader of the letter might also be intended.

In Huautla Mazatec and Mal, the translators selected the inclusive we, in Tok Pisin, the exclusive pronoun.

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff. and David Filbeck in The Bible Translator 1994, p. 401ff.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Phlm. 1:1)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 this verse, translators typically select the inclusive form (including Paul and Philemon) for the equivalent of “our brother” and either the exclusive or inclusive form for “our dear friend.”

In Huautla Mazatec, the translators selected the inclusive we, in Tok Pisin, the exclusive form is used for the second occurrence (“our dear friend”).

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff. and SIL International Translation Department (1999).

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Jas. 4:13)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 this verse, translators typically select the exclusive form (third group of people talking among each other).

In Huautla Mazatec and Tok Pisin, however, the translators selected the inclusive we.

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Eph. 1:12)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 this verse, translators typically select the inclusive form (including the reader of the letter). The Tok Pisin translation uses the exclusive form, though.

Source: SIL International Translation Department (1999)

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Mark 4:38 / Luke 8:24)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 this verse (“we are perishing” in English translations), Yagua translators selected the inclusive form (as well as the Sierra Totonac and the Tok Pisin translators). The Yagua translators justify this by saying, “Did the disciples think of their Lord as about to perish with them, or were they selfishly only thinking of their own safety, or did they feel He at least would not perish? We translated this one with the inclusive, giving the disciples the benefit of the doubt, Since they had waited so long to waken Him, they couldn’t have been too selfish in their thinking.”

Source: Paul Powlison in Notes on Translation with Drills, p. 165ff.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (2Cor. 12:18)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 this verse, translators typically select the exclusive form (only referring to Paul and Silas). The Tok Pisin translation uses the dual form mitupela here. (Source: SIL International Translation Department (1999))

The Mal translators used an inclusive form. (Source: David Filbeck in The Bible Translator 1994, p. 401ff.)

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Rom. 3:8)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 this verse (“what we say”), translators typically select the exclusive form (excluding the readers of the letter).

In the Karbi and Tok Pisin translations only the first two instances are translated with the exclusive pronoun, but the third (“Let us do evil” in English) is inclusive. (This also matches the recommendation of SIL International Translation Department (1999).)

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff. and W. R. Hutton in The Bible Translator April 1953, p. 86ff. (Karbi).

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (John 14:23)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 this verse, translators typically select the exclusive form (excluding Judas). The Tok Pisin specifies this even more by using the dual (only including two, the Son and the Father).

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.