Rebekah (Japanese honorifics)

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.

In this verse, “Rebekah” is translated the Shinkaiyaku Bible as Ribeka-san (リベカさん), combining the transliteration of word of the Hebrew for “Rebekah” and the suffix title –san.

(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.

complete verse (Genesis 24:45)

Following are a number of back-translations as well as a sample translation for translators of Genesis 24:45:

  • Newari: “‘Before I had finished praying, Rebekah came toward the well, bringing a pitcher. She drew water from the well. I said to her — ‘Give me a little water to drink.”” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Hiligaynon: “‘Before I in-fact finished praying, Rebekah arrived carrying a jar on her shoulder. She went-down to the well and drew-water. I said to her, ‘Please let- me -drink.'” (Source: Hiligaynon Back Translation)
  • English: “Before I finished praying, amazingly, Rebekah approached with her water jar on her shoulder. She went down to the well and got some water. I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink!'” (Source: Translation for Translators)

Translation commentary on Genesis 24:45

Speaking in my heart: the servant’s prayer was made silently, that is, “Before I had finished praying,” “Before I had finished my silent prayer,” “… speaking to the LORD in my heart.”

Behold, Rebekah: see verse 15. Note that the kinship identifications, which the servant did not learn until later, are now omitted, as are the narrator’s description of Rebekah’s appearance.

Pray let me drink: drink is as in verse 43.

Quoted with permission from Reyburn, William D. and Fry, Euan McG. A Handbook on Genesis. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1997. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .