indefinite pronouns, Timothy our brother

Tongan uses, in addition to a definite article, two indefinite articles. The definite article consists of the particle e before a noun (phrase) with a definite accent on its final vowel, and corresponds almost exactly to English ‘the.’ One indefinite article consists of the particle e before the noun (phrase) without a definite accent on its final vowel, and corresponds to English ‘a’ when the emphasis of ‘a’ is on the singleness of the noun (such as in ‘a cat’ with the emphasis on the word ‘a’). The other indefinite article consists of the particle ha, and corresponds to English ‘a’ when the emphasis of ‘a’ is on substance of the noun (phrase) (such as in ‘a cat‘ with the emphasis on the word “cat”).

The Greek that is translated as “Timothy our brother” in English is translated in Tongan as si‘i kāinga ko Tīmote. As the noun phrase stands without the definitive accent on its final vowel, it actually means ‘Timothy, a brother of ours’, which makes the relationship significantly remoter.

a prisoner, indefinite pronouns

Tongan uses, in addition to a definite article, two indefinite articles. The definite article consists of the particle e before a noun (phrase) with a definite accent on its final vowel, and corresponds almost exactly to English ‘the.’ One indefinite article consists of the particle e before the noun (phrase) without a definite accent on its final vowel, and corresponds to English ‘a’ when the emphasis of ‘a’ is on the singleness of the noun (such as in ‘a cat’ with the emphasis on the word ‘a’). The other indefinite article consists of the particle ha, and corresponds to English ‘a’ when the emphasis of ‘a’ is on substance of the noun (phrase) (such as in ‘a cat‘ with the emphasis on the word “cat”).

The Greek that is translated as “a prisoner” in English is translated in Tongan as ha nofo pilīsone: “a prisoner.” Ha here, with its focus on substance, indicates that Philemon did not know Paul’s current status but needed to be informed of it, which conveys an exegetical decision that may or may not be correct. Most Tongan readers feel that e is more appropriate here, Philemon almost certainly, in their view, being well aware that Paul was a prisoner.