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 writer and the readers of this letter).
Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.
The Greek that is translated in English as “brother” (in the sense of a fellow Christian) is translated with a specifically coined word in Kachin: “There are two terms for brother in Kachin. One is used to refer to a Christian brother. This term combines ‘older and younger brother.’ The other term is used specifically for addressing siblings. When one uses this term, one must specify if the older or younger person is involved. A parallel system exists for ‘sister’ as well. In [these verses], the term for ‘a Christian brother’ is used.” (Source: Gam Seng Shae)
In Martu Wangka it is translated as “relative” (this is also the term that is used for “follower”.) (Source: Carl Gross)
See also brothers.
Following are a number of back-translations of Galatians 4:28:
- Uma: “This is like the words of the Holy Book that say: "You (sing.) are glad [emp], barren woman, who has not ever given-birth! Be glad and hoot ("halelo’" [from excitement or joy], you who have not one time suffered birthing a child. Because even though you (sing.) are barren, the number of your (sing.) descendants will be more than those of the woman who had-children to start with." We, relatives, are the ones who have become the children of God, according to God’s promise. We are like Ishak, the child of Abraham who was born according to God’s promise.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
- Yakan: “My brothers, we (incl.) are the children of God because his covenant/promise was fulfilled by him. We (incl.) are like Isahak born by Sara as God’s fulfillment of his covenant to Ibrahim.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
- Western Bukidnon Manobo: “So, brothers, in the same way also we have become children of God because He fulfilled His promise, just like Isaac was born to Sarah because the promise of God to Abraham was fulfilled.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
- Kankanaey: “Brothers, we who believe, we have a similarity to Isaac, because he was born on account of what God promised, and we also, we are counted as Abraham’s children because of that same what-God -promised.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
- Tagbanwa: “Well now, brethren, we who are now believing/obeying Cristo, we are God’s children who are the fulfillment of what he promised, just like Isaac that child of Sara.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
- Tenango Otomi: “Now we, my dear brethren, are like Isaac whom God promised would be born in that God promised that we would be his children.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)