addressing someone respectfully in direct speech in Japanese

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 of appropriate suffix title referred to as keishō (敬称) as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017 by either using -san or –sama with the latter being the more formal title.

This is evident in these verses in the Shinkaiyaku Bible from the form anata-sama (あなた様) “you” which is the combination of the nominal “you” anata and the suffix title –sama.

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

second person pronoun with high register

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 a second person pronoun (“you” and its various forms) as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017. The most commonly used anata (あなた) is typically used when the speaker is humbly addressing another person.

In these verses, however, the more venerable anata-sama (あなた様) is used, which combines anata with the with a formal title -sama.

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

formal 2nd person pronoun (Spanish)

Like many languages (but unlike Greek or Hebrew or English), Spanish uses a formal vs. informal second-person pronoun (a familiar vs. a respectful “you”). Spanish Bibles all use only the informal second-person pronoun (), with the exception of Dios Habla Hoy (third edition: 1996) which also uses the formal pronoun (usted). In the referenced verses, the formal form is used.

Sources and for more information: P. Ellingworth in The Bible Translator 2002, p. 143ff. and R. Ross in The Bible Translator 1993, p. 217ff.

See also the use of the formal vs. the informal pronoun in the Gospels in Tuvan.

Translation commentary on 2 Samuel 1:10

Stood beside him: the vocabulary of verse 9 is repeated here to indicate that the soldier did as Saul had requested.

After he had fallen: see the comments on the use of this verb in verse 4 above. New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh has a footnote here which states that the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain. This infinitive in Hebrew may be interpreted in two very different ways:
(1) It may mean literally “to fall on the ground.” This seems to be the intended sense of Revised Standard Version, and it is definitely the meaning of the Good News Translation translation. See also New Jerusalem Bible, “that once he fell he could not survive.” The translations in Revised Standard Version, Good News Translation, and New Jerusalem Bible (also Nueva Biblia Española) all understand the infinitive to mean that Saul had not yet fallen to the ground. New Jewish Publication Society’s Tanakh, however, says “for I knew that he would never rise from where he was lying.” Either interpretation is possible.
(2) As noted in verse 4, this verb sometimes means “to be wounded” or “to be killed in battle.” This extended meaning is the basis for the following translations: “for I knew that, stricken as he was, he could not live” (Revised English Bible), “for I knew that he could not survive his wound” (New American Bible,Parola Del Signore: La Bibbia in Lingua Corrente), and “for I knew that he would not survive after he had been severely wounded” (Anderson).

Crown: in many languages there is no specific word for crown. The term has to be rendered by “the headgear of the chief,” “the hat of kingship,” or something similar. The exact nature of the crown is not known. On the basis of archaeological evidence, some consider this to be an emblem worn on the forehead rather than a heavy crown set on top of the head.

Armlet: the Hebrew word so translated occurs only here and in Num 31.50, in the list of articles brought as gifts to the LORD. It was probably a kind of “arm chain” or a chainlike bracelet rather than a solid piece as the New International Version rendering, “band,” seems to indicate. Archaeological evidence suggests that this was worn on the upper arm.

My lord: the term of respect used here is the same as is sometimes used of God, but here it is clearly an indirect reference to David, to whom the Amalekite soldier is speaking. This indirect approach is also an indication of respect in the Old Testament, but in most languages today it will be more natural to use a direct reference as in Good News Translation. But note that, in addition to the pronoun “you,” Good News Translation adds “sir” to convey the idea of respect found in the original.

Quoted with permission from Omanson, Roger L. and Ellington, John E. A Handbook on the First and Second Books of Samuel, Volume 2. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2001. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

third person pronoun with high register

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 a third person singular and plural pronoun (“he,” “she,” “it” and their various forms) as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017. While it’s not uncommon to avoid pronouns altogether in Japanese, there are is a range of third person pronouns that can be used.

In these verses a number of them are used that pay particularly much respect to the referred person (or, in fact, God, as in Exodus 15:2), including kono kata (この方), sono kata (その方), and ano kata (あの方), meaning “this person,” “that person,” and “that person over there.”

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

See also third person pronoun with exalted register.