inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Acts 2:29)

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 inclusive form (including the listeners).

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

complete verse (Acts 2:29)

Following are a number of back-translations of Acts 2:29:

  • Uma: “From there, Petrus also said: ‘My relatives, we may say with certainty/clearness, it was not himself that Daud’s words earlier were aimed-at. Because our father Daud, he of course died and was buried. His grave is in our town to this time.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “‘Na, my brothers,’ Petros said, ‘I am telling you clearly about our (incl.) forefather King Da’ud ley (deceased). He certainly died and was buried, and his grave is still here with us (incl.) until now.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And Peter continued speaking, he said, ‘My brothers, we (incl.) know that our (incl.) ancestor King David long ago, he has been dead a long time and he was buried and we still know where his grave is today.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Then he said, ‘You (my) companions, I want to make-known correctly to you concerning David our ancestor long-ago. David, he died and was buried, and his burial-place can still be seen today.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Well now, brethren, think about (lit. walk over with your mind) this which I am saying-plainly. Isn’t it so that out ancestor David died and was buried ? And isn’t it so that till today/now where he was buried is still here with us ?” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

David

The name that is transliterated as “David” in English is translated in Spanish Sign Language with the sign signifying a sling and king (referring to 1 Samuel 17:49 and 2 Samuel 5:4). (Source: John Elwode in The Bible Translator 2008, p. 78ff.)


“David” in Spanish Sign Language (source)

The (Protestant) Chinese transliteration of “David” is 大卫 (衛) / Dàwèi which carries an additional meaning of “Great Protector.”

Click or tap here to see a short video clip about David (source: Bible Lands 2012)