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 (John 9:4)

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 must work” in English translations), translators select the exclusive form (excluding the disciples) (source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.) or the inclusive form, since “Jesus [was] referring primarily to himself….If his disciples were minded to be disciples
indeed, then these were the works which they also must do, in fellowship with their Master” (source: SIL International Translation Department (1999)).

The Yagua and the Tok Pisin translators chose the inclusive form. The Yagua translators justify this by saying “Is this an editorial ‘we’ or a ‘we’ representing the Godhead or does He include his disciples? We chose the inclusive interpretation.” (Source: Paul Powlison in Notes on Translation with Drills, p. 165ff.)

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (1Tim. 4:10)

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”).

According to Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan (in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.) translators typically select the exclusive form (excluding Timothy), but SIL International Translation Department (1999) recommends the inclusive form (including Timothy).

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

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

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Matt. 20:33)

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 Jesus). In Tok Pisin this is further specified by the use of the dual mitupela — the “two of us.

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

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Col. 1:4)

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 addressee). The Tok Pisin uses the dual mitupela because the pronoun refers to Paul and Timothy.

Source: SIL International Translation Department (1999).

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Luke 24:20)

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”).

According to Pickett / Cowan, this verse, the inclusive form (including Jesus) should be chosen because “undoubtedly they consider him (Jesus) to be a Jew or they would not have invited Him to eat with them (vv. 29-30).” (Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff. and Velma B. Pickett in The Bible Translator 1964, p. 88f.)

The Huautla Mazatec, Tok Pisin, or Yagua translators also chose the exclusive form. The Yagua translators justify this by saying “Would Cleopas and his companion in­clude the stranger who had joined them in this ‘we’? We think not in view of his previous estimate of the stranger. [‘Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know, etc.?’] This implies Cleopas would not consider Him as being sub­ject with himself and companion to the Jerusalem authorities. We would use the exclusive here” (source: Paul Powlison in Notes on Translation with Drills, p. 165ff.) SIL International Translation Department (1999) concurs.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (2Cor. 1:21)

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 addressee) for the first occurrence of the pronoun (“us and you”) and either the inclusive or exclusive form for the second (“anointed us”) to either include the Corinthians or not.

The Copainalá Zoque translators chose an inclusive form for the second occurrence (“anointed us”), because they take it “as referring to Paul, his associates, and those addressed, the Corinthians, and all true Christians, if need be.” The Tok Pisin Translation uses the exclusive form for the second occurrence.

Sources: Roy and Margaret Harrison in Notes on Translation with Drills, p. 173ff. and SIL International Translation Department (1999).

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Matt. 9:27)

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 Jesus). In Tok Pisin the dual (mitupela) is used since there are two blind men.

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

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 (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 (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.