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 39:8)

Following are a number of back-translations as well as a sample translation for translators of Genesis 39:8:

  • Kankanaey: “But he refused saying, ‘This is bad (particle of strong disapproval)! You (sing.) know that there-is-nothing my master needs to tend to in this house if I am here, because he has indeed appointed me to be in-charge-of all his possessions.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Newari: “He did not listen to this proposal [lit.: matter], and said — ‘Because I am in this house, my master, has no concern for anything, [and] he has given [lit.: released to] me all the responsibility I have.” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Hiligaynon: “But Jose refused. He said to the woman, ‘Listen! My master entrusted to me all his possessions, so does not have-to-worry about the things here in his household.” (Source: Hiligaynon Back Translation)
  • English: “But he refused, saying to his master’s wife, ‘Listen! My master is not concerned about anything in this house. He has appointed me to take care of everything that he owns.” (Source: Translation for Translators)

master (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.

These titles are distinct from nominal titles such as “master.” This is evident from the forms such as go-shujin-sama (ご主人様) “master” or “lord” which is the combination of the nominal title shujin “master,” the honorific prefix go- and the suffix title –sama.

In some cases, it can also be used as go-shujin (ご主人), i.e. with the honorific prefix go- but without the suffix title –sama. You can find that in Genesis 19:2, 23:6, 23:11, 23:15, 24:51, 32:18, 39:8, 39:9, 44:8, 44:9; 1 Samuel 25:17; and 2 Kings 2:16 and 4:26.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

Translation commentary on Genesis 39:8

But he refused: in this context it may be more natural to use direct speech; for example, “ ‘No!’ said Joseph. ‘I can’t do that!’ ” Bible en français courant says “ ‘Never,’ replied Joseph.” Joseph’s defense for refusing Potiphar’s wife is based on the trust his master has placed in him, and that to do what she commands would be a sin against God.

Lo, having me … in the house: Lo translates the Hebrew hen, which emphasizes the reason to follow. Good News Translation translates it “Look, ….” We may also sometimes say “Listen,” or “Wait.” Having me … may appear that Joseph’s speech is not related to the wife’s seduction unless something is said to make this clear. This may be done by reversing the two clauses of the verse so that the question of trust is stated first; for example, “Listen, don’t you know my master has trusted me with everything he has? He doesn’t have to worry about anything in this house because I am here.”

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 .

behold / look / see (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 (or a lack) of an honorific prefix as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017. When the referent is God or a person or persons to be greatly honored, the honorific prefix go- (御 or ご) can be used, as in go-ran (ご覧), a combination of “behold / see” (ran) and the honorific prefix go-.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

See also

imperatives (kudasai / 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 Japanese show different degree of politeness is through the choice of an imperative construction as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017.

In these verses, the honorific form kudasai (ください) reflects that the action is called for as a favor for the sake of the beneficiary. This polite kudasai imperative form is often translated as “please” in English. While English employs pure imperatives in most imperative constructions (“Do this!”), Japanese chooses the polite kudasai (“Do this, please.”).

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )