brother (older brother)

The Greek and Hebrew that is translated as “brother” in English is translated in Kwere as sekulu and in Mandarin Chinese as gēgē (哥哥), both “older brother.”

Note that Kwere also uses lumbu — “older sibling” in some cases. (Source for Kwere: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

See also older brother (Japanese honorifics).

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Gen 24:55)

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, the Jarai and the Adamawa Fulfulde translation both use the exclusive pronoun, excluding the man.

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 24:55)

Following are a number of back-translations as well as a sample translation for translators of Genesis 24:55:

  • Newari: “They said — ‘Keep her here with us for ten days. Then take [her] away.'” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Hiligaynon: “But the sibling/(brother) and the mother of Rebeka replied, ‘Let- Rebeka -stay here for-a-while-yet with us (excl.) even for only ten days, after that you (pl.) can- now -leave/[lit. walk].'” (Source: Hiligaynon Back Translation)
  • English: “But her brother and her mother replied, ‘Let the girl remain with us for about ten days. After that, you may take her and go.'” (Source: Translation for Translators)

Translation commentary on Genesis 24:55

Her refers to Rebekah, and so Good News Translation says “Rebecca’s brother….”

Let the maiden remain: maiden is the same term used in verses 14, 16, 28.

A while, at least ten days is literally “days or ten.” This is an idiomatic expression, with “ten” to mean “more or less ten days.” Good News Translation has “a week or ten days,” Revised English Bible “for a few days, say ten days.” In many languages it will be natural to say “a little while longer…” or “a little while more….”

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 .