a sign to you

The Greek that is translated in many English versions as “this will be a sign to you” is translated with an existing figure of speech in Yagua, back-translated as “By it, you will know” (followed by a sign by which something will be known).

Source: Paul Powlison in Notes on Translation June 1979, p. 38-40.

looking up into the sky

The Greek that is translated in many English versions as “looking up into the sky” is translated with an existing figure of speech in Yagua, back-translated as “a skyward looking person.”

Source: Paul Powlison in Notes on Translation June 1979, p. 38-40.

he was restored and saw everything clearly

The Greek that is translated in many English versions as “he was restored, and he saw everything clearly” is translated with an existing figure of speech in Yagua, back-translated as “His sight was whole, it was complete.”

Source: Paul Powlison in Notes on Translation June 1979, p. 38-40.

not to tell anyone

The Greek that is translated in many English versions as “not to tell anyone” is translated with an existing figure of speech in Yagua, back-translated as “this is a secret, don’t tell them.”

Source: Paul Powlison in Notes on Translation June 1979, p. 38-40.

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 (Matt. 17:4 / Mark 9:5 / Luke 9:33)

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 (“Lord, it is good for us to be here” in English translations), Yagua translators selected the exclusive form (excluding Jesus), whereas Avaric, Tok Pisin, Jarai, Fijian, and Adamawa Fulfulde translators chose the inclusive form (which includes Jesus).

Source: Paul Powlison in Notes on Translation with Drills, p. 165ff. and Magomed-Kamil Gimbatov and Yakov Testelets in The Bible Translator 1996, p. 434ff.

SIL International Translation Department (1999) documents that there are reasonable differences of opinions about the use of the inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun for this verse mentioned above.

In Mark and Luke the second plural pronoun (“let us put us a tent” in English) is always translated with an exclusive pronoun (excluding Jesus). Likewise, in Fijian, the exclusive trial keitou (I and two others but not you) is used, specifically including Peter, James and John, but not Jesus.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (John 4:12)

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 the first part of this verse (“our father Jacob” in English translations), translators often select the inclusive form, whereas for the second part (“gave us this well” in English translations) the exclusive form.

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

The Yagua translators (who, along with the translations into Malay, Sundanese, and Balinese, chose the exclusive for both parts of the verse) justify this by saying “Our choice here is exclusive assuming that the Samaritan woman to maintain the independent and factious spirit which this account shows existed between Jews and Samaritans.”

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

Another opinion on using the inclusive pronoun for this verse and the remainder of the story:

“The Samaritan woman, in my view, is trying to get the better of Jesus; she appeals to Jacob (v. 12) and to ‘our fathers’ (v. 20) as to authorities higher than Jesus. If this is true, then it was important for her to show that those authorities were acknowledged by Jesus also. Therefore, we can imagine her to have thought or said ‘Your and my ancestor’ (v. 12) or ‘ancestors’ (v. 20) — inclusive pronoun in both verses.

“As for the phrase ‘who gave us the well’, there is certainly much truth in the consideration: “Since the well was in Samaritan territory, presumably she would use the exclusive form.” Yet, the inclusive can be defended here also, I think. With the remark that Jacob and his sons drank from the well, she is pointing back to a time anterior to the present antithesis between Jew and Samaritan; the well was given to ancestors of both peoples. Moreover, she comes to fetch water from the well and Jesus hopes to quench his thirst with its water. “The well is of common interest for both you and me,” she may have meant. It seems possible to find a third appeal to higher authority in v. 25. The woman has acknowledged Jesus as a prophet, but to the Messiah even a prophet has to bow; he, the prophet, as well as she, will have to be shown all things by the Messiah. Accepting this interpretation, we again have to use the inclusive ‘we’, Yet there is a difference with the verses first mentioned. In v. 12 and v. 20 the pronominal first person plural was used in phrases connected with the past; v. 25 points to the future, to the time when the Messiah will come and teach. A consciousness among the Samaritans of a Messianic belief common to both Jews and themselves is a necessary presupposition of the interpretation of v. 25 given above. So we are led to the preliminary question whether such a consciousness existed in Jesus’ times.”

Source: J. L. Swellengrebel in The Bible Translator 1959, p. 37.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (John 4:20)

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”).

For this verse (“our fathers ” in English translations), translators often select the exclusive form.

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

The Yagua translators justify this by saying “Our choice here is exclusive assuming that the Samaritan woman to maintain the independent and factious spirit which this account shows existed between Jews and Samaritans.”

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

In the Mezquital Otomi translation the inclusive form was chosen because “according to the Samaritans, Mt. Gerizim had been the scene of the sacrifice of Isaac and Abraham’s meeting with Melchizedek; and in their version of the Pentateuch it, and not Mt. Ebal, was the site of the first Hebrew sacrifice after the people had passed over Jordan into the Holy Land.”

Source: Nacy Lanier in Notes on Translation with Drills, p. 167ff.

Another opinion on using the inclusive pronoun for this verse and the remainder of the story:

“The Samaritan woman, in my view, is trying to get the better of Jesus; she appeals to Jacob (v. 12) and to ‘our fathers’ (v. 20) as to authorities higher than Jesus. If this is true, then it was important for her to show that those authorities were acknowledged by Jesus also. Therefore, we can imagine her to have thought or said ‘Your and my ancestor’ (v. 12) or ‘ancestors’ (v. 20) — inclusive pronoun in both verses.

“As for the phrase ‘who gave us the well’, there is certainly much truth in the consideration: “Since the well was in Samaritan territory, presumably she would use the exclusive form.” Yet, the inclusive can be defended here also, I think. With the remark that Jacob and his sons drank from the well, she is pointing back to a time anterior to the present antithesis between Jew and Samaritan; the well was given to ancestors of both peoples. Moreover, she comes to fetch water from the well and Jesus hopes to quench his thirst with its water. “The well is of common interest for both you and me,” she may have meant. It seems possible to find a third appeal to higher authority in v. 25. The woman has acknowledged Jesus as a prophet, but to the Messiah even a prophet has to bow; he, the prophet, as well as she, will have to be shown all things by the Messiah. Accepting this interpretation, we again have to use the inclusive ‘we’, Yet there is a difference with the verses first mentioned. In v. 12 and v. 20 the pronominal first person plural was used in phrases connected with the past; v. 25 points to the future, to the time when the Messiah will come and teach. A consciousness among the Samaritans of a Messianic belief common to both Jews and themselves is a necessary presupposition of the interpretation of v. 25 given above. So we are led to the preliminary question whether such a consciousness existed in Jesus’ times.”

Source: J. L. Swellengrebel in The Bible Translator 1959, p. 37.

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 (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.