return / come back (Japanese honorifics)

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way to do this is through the usage (or a lack) of an honorific prefix as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017.

In these verses, the Hebrew that is translated as “return” or “come back” in English is translated in the Shinkaiyaku Bible as o-kaeri (お帰り), combining “return” (kaeri) with the respectful prefix o-.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

eat (Japanese honorifics)

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way to do this is through the usage (or a lack) of an honorific prefix as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017.

The Hebrew that is translated as “eat” in English is translated in the Shinkaiyaku Bible as o-tabe (お食べ), combining “eat” (tabe) with the respectful prefix o-.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

listen / hear (Japanese honorifics)

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way to do this is through the usage (or a lack) of an honorific prefix as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017.

In this verse, the Hebrew that is translated as “listen” or “hear” or similar in English is translated in the Shinkaiyaku Bible as o-ki (お聞), combining “listen / hear” (ki) with the respectful prefix o-.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

See also Listen!.

Translation commentary on 1 Samuel 28:22

Now therefore: literally “And now.” But the context may require a more logical connection as in Revised Standard Version.

Hearken to your handmaid: that is, “listen to me” (New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh) or “please heed what I say.” The Hebrew contains the particle of entreaty that is often translated “please” or is left untranslated. The woman again uses the indirect reference to herself to show her politeness. She is also using the same vocabulary as in the previous verse and arguing in effect that Saul should listen to her just as she had listened to him.

Let me set a morsel of bread before you: the woman is offering to prepare something for Saul to eat. This may be worded in various ways depending on receptor language usage. Some possible models are “let me set something before you to eat” (New American Bible) and “I would like to bring you a little food” (Bible en français courant).

When you go on your way: that is, “for your journey” (Revised English Bible, New Jerusalem Bible), assuming that Saul would soon leave Endor and return to his army.

Quoted with permission from Omanson, Roger L. and Ellington, John E. A Handbook on the First and Second Books of Samuel, Volume 1. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2001. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

imperatives (kudasai / Japanese honorifics)

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way Japanese show different degree of politeness is through the choice of an imperative construction as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017.

In these verses, the honorific form kudasai (ください) reflects that the action is called for as a favor for the sake of the beneficiary. This polite kudasai imperative form is often translated as “please” in English. While English employs pure imperatives in most imperative constructions (“Do this!”), Japanese chooses the polite kudasai (“Do this, please.”).

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )