The Greek that is sometimes translated in English as “busybody” is translated in Chokwe as mukwa moko a jiji or “he with the hands of a fly.” D. B. Long (in The Bible Translator 1952, p. 87ff.) explains: “This seems startling, but then these people have a firsthand knowledge of flies in large numbers, and thoroughly detest them. They say they dabble in everyone’s food and add insult to injury by rubbing their ‘hands’ first in front of them and then behind. So a busybody is always puttering in other people’s affairs and he does not always rub his hands in the same way: part of hit is behind his back, you are never sure that you know what he is doing.”
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).
Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.
In Fijian the trial exclusive form “neitou” (“of me and of them two”) is used instead. This choice is understandable in view of the introduction found in both letters to the Thessalonians, where the writer Paul indicates clearly that the letters were co-authored by two other colleagues, Silas and Timothy, hence the use of a pronoun referring to three people (“Paul, Silas and Timothy”).
Source: Joseph Hong in The Bible Translator 1994, p. 419ff.
Following are a number of back-translations of 2 Thessalonians 3:11:
- Uma: “The reason we are talking like this, let’s(inc) come to the point [an idiomatic phrase], is because we heard that there are some there who are acting-lazy. They are just busy mixing with the affairs of others, they do not do/work their own work well.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
- Yakan: “That’s why we (excl.) talk-about/mention it here, because we (excl.) hear that there are very lazy people there with you who really don’t work, but that’s what they do, meddle in their companions work.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
- Western Bukidnon Manobo: “We have been told that there are some of you there who are lazy. It is said that they will not work, rather, they disturb the work of their fellows.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
- Kankanaey: “We (excl.) write you this because there reportedly are some loafers/goof-offs among you who are not industrious to work but rather they are only industrious in meddling in what their companions are doing.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
- Tagbanwa: “We(excl.) have mentioned this here in this letter of ours(excl.) for we (excl.) have received news that there are some there with you who have dropped/given-up their own means-of-getting-what-they-can-live-on. Not only that but on the contrary they are being a bother to the lives of others.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
- Tenango Otomi: “We hear a word here that some of your friends do not want to work. What they do do is just that they pry into what people are doing, so that they gossip.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)