Pharaoh

The term that is used for monarchs in ancient Egypt and is transliterated as “Pharaoh” in English is translated in Finnish Sign Language with the sign signifying the “fake metal beard (postiche)” that was word by Pharaohs during official functions. (Source: Tarja Sandholm)


“Pharaoh” in Finnish Sign Language (source )

buy

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated as “buy,” “acquire,” or “purchase” in English is translated in Noongar as bangal-barranga or “get-barter.” Note that “sell” is translated as wort-bangal or “away-barter.” (Source: Bardip Ruth-Ang 2020)

See also sell and buying / selling.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Gen 47:19)

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 Joseph.

complete verse (Genesis 47:19)

Following are a number of back-translations as well as a sample translation for translators of Genesis 47:19:

  • Kankanaey: “You (sing.) ought not to permit us (excl.) to die with hunger. Please exchange our (excl.) bodies and our land for food. We (excl.) will just go ahead and become slaves of the king and he will come-to-own our (excl.) lands, just so long as you (sing.) give us (excl.) food as our (excl.) means-of-livelihood and seed that we (excl.) will plant so that this land will not be abandoned with nobody staying (there).'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Newari: “Don’t destroy us and our fields. Giving us grain, take us and our fields. In this way we, together with our fields will become servants and maid servants of Pharaoh. Please give us seed. Then we will not have to die, our land also will not become barren.'” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Hiligaynon: “Therefore help us (excl.) so-that/[linker] we (excl.) will- not -die and our (excl.) fields/land will- not -be-abandoned/forsaken. We agree to-become slaves of the king and our (excl.) lands will-become his in-order-for us (excl.) to just have food. Then give us (excl.) seeds that can-be-planted so-that we will- not -die and so-that ourfields/lands will- not -be-abandoned/forsaken.'” (Source: Hiligaynon Back Translation)
  • English: “If you do not give us some food, we will die!/Do you want to watch us die? If you do not give us seeds, our fields will become useless. Buy us and our land in exchange for food. Then we will be the king’s slaves, and he will own the land. Give us seeds that we can plant and grow food, in order that we will not die, and in order that our land will not become like a desert.'” (Source: Translation for Translators)

addressing someone respectfully in direct speech in Japanese

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.

This is evident in these verses in the Shinkaiyaku Bible from the form anata-sama (あなた様) “you” which is the combination of the nominal “you” anata and the suffix title –sama.

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

second person pronoun with high register

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 a second person pronoun (“you” and its various forms) as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017. The most commonly used anata (あなた) is typically used when the speaker is humbly addressing another person.

In these verses, however, the more venerable anata-sama (あなた様) is used, which combines anata with the with a formal title -sama.

(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.

Translation commentary on Genesis 47:19

Why should we die before your eyes…?: see verse 15. Restructuring the rhetorical question, we may begin the verse “Please don’t let us perish! …” or “You can’t let us die! Help us! ….”

Both we and our land: the idea of the people dying of starvation is clear, but in what sense is the land said to die? The thought expressed here is that, if farmers do not have seed to sow, their lands are useless and become abandoned. Accordingly the people’s question must be worded in some languages, for example, “Do we have to die before your very eyes and abandon our fields [farms, gardens]?” See Good News Translation.

Buy us and our land for food: that is, “Take us and our fields in exchange for something to eat” or “Give us food to eat and you can have us and our gardens.”

And we with our land will be slaves to Pharaoh: again it may be necessary to make adjustments in translation, as people and not land may be called slaves. It may be necessary to express the slavery of the people and the “slavery of the land” in separate clauses with different senses; for example, “We will become the king’s slaves, and he will become the owner of our lands” or “We will be slaves to the king, and our farms will all belong to him.” See Good News Translation.

Give us seed, that we may live, and not die: seed is a general term, but if the language of translation has only names for particular seeds, the kind that provides a major crop in the area should be used. For live, and not die see 42.2.

Land may not be desolate: desolate land is farm land that has gone to waste from neglect, that is, from not being cultivated and planted. Revised English Bible and others say “our land will become a desert.” See Good News Translation.

We may translate verse 19, for example:

• Do we have to die under your very eyes and abandon our farms? Take us and our lands in exchange for something to eat. Then we will be the king’s slaves and our farms will belong to him. Give us seed so we can survive, and so our farms will not become like deserts.”

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 .