peace (being at peace)

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated into English as “peace” (or “at ease”) is (back-) translated with a variety of idioms and phrases:

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Acts 24:2)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). (Click or tap here to see more details)

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 Felix).

In Huautla Mazatec, however, the translators selected the inclusive we.

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

complete verse (Acts 24:2)

Following are a number of back-translations of Acts 24:2:

  • Uma: “So, Governor Feliks ordered people to bring Paulus to their meeting. Tertulus was given opportunity to speak first. He began to accuse Paulus like this: ‘Our(excl.) father Governor Feliks that we (excl.) respect! Because of your (sing.) governing, we (excl.) your (sing.) people live with goodness [i.e., live well]. And from your (sing.) skill in ordering/planning, much has been fixed in our (excl.) towns.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “After they had called Paul, Tertullus began stating their accusation. He said, ‘Sir, you are really prominent/important. Because of your good governorship/Because of the good way you-rule-as-governor, our (excl.) land is very peaceful, and you also do/have done a lot of good for this country/place.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And he called Paul and then Tertullus stood up because he would tell their charges against Paul. And he said, ‘Dear Governor, because of your skill leading us, we’ve had peace a long time in our province, and there are many good things that have come to pass for us.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “When the governor had-Pablo -called, Tertullus spoke to accuse him. He said, ‘Honored Sir Governor! On-account-of your (sing.) skill in ruling-over us (excl.), our (excl.) life here has been peaceful for-a-long-time. You have also done much to improve this country.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “And then, when the governor had caused Pablo to be fetched, Tertulo began to explain-in-detail what they were accusing Pablo of. He said, ‘Respected Governor, really right from when you were seated as our (excl.) governing-official, for all this time there has been no trouble here in this land. It has been replaced by peace. Really through this governing of yours, many things have been renewed, which is for the benefit of all people under your rule.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

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 (DHH) (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.