Kayaw has two main verbs of movement: lè for movement in a direction away from one’s home, and the ge for movement in a direction returning back to one’s home. So in Kayaw, you “go somewhere”, but you never “go home”, you only “return home”. Thus, in John 14:2-5, Jesus speaks of returning to his Father’s house in heaven, rather than going to his Father’s house in heaven. In verse 5 Thomas says that he and the other disciples don’t know where Jesus is returning, or the way that would enable them to go there (for them a new place, not their home). This use of return implies that Thomas is confused about both Jesus’ origin (coming down from his Father) and Jesus’ destination (returning to his Father). This fits well with verses 6-11 where Jesus uses Thomas’ confusion to expound on his relationship to the Father.
Following are a number of back-translations of John 14:2:
- Ojitlán Chinantec: “In my Father’s house are many rooms for people to live in. If there were not many rooms, I would not have told you there were many. But there are, so I am going to get them arranged for you to live in.”
- Huehuetla Tepehua: “There where my Father is are many houses. If it wasn’t like that up in heaven, I would have told you that it wasn’t like that. I am going to fix up the houses that are going to be yours.”
- Aguaruna: “There is a lot of free space, able to be lived in, in my Father’s place. If that were not true I would not have told you it was! I am going in order to prepare your staying place.”
- Colorado: “Where my Father God lives are many houses to live in. It’s true. I’m not one who lies!”
- Navajo: “Where my Father’s home is there are many houses. If it were not that way, would I have told you that it was? I am going there in order to prepare a place for you.”
- Yatzachi Zapotec: “Where my Father God is like a large house with many rooms. I would have told you if there were not rooms for you. And now I will return to prepare rooms for each of you.” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
- Uma: “In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling-places. I go to prepare your dwelling-places for you. If it were not like that, I would have told you.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
- Yakan: “There in the place of my Father God, there are many dwellings. If this were not true I would not tell you this. I am going to prepare your dwellings.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
- Western Bukidnon Manobo: “There are many places which can be lived in where my Father lives. For if this were not true I would not have said to you a while ago that I go to prepare a place for you to live in.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
- Kankanaey: “Because there are many dwelling-places for people -where my Father -is-staying in heaven, and I am going there to go prepare your dwelling-place. If this that I tell you were not true, would I tell it?” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
- Tagbanwa: “In heaven where my Father lives, it’s a dwelling-place with lots of room. This is really true, and I’m going ahead now to do what will cause you to be able to live there. If it’s not true, of course I wouldn’t say it to you.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
- Tenango Otomi: “There at my Father’s house there are many places to stay. If there weren’t resting places, I wouldn’t have told you this. But now I am going to prepare a place for you.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
Like many languages (but unlike Greek or Hebrew or English), Tuvan uses a formal vs. informal 2nd person pronoun (a familiar vs. a respectful “you”). Unlike other languages that have this feature, however, the translators of the Tuvan Bible have attempted to be very consistent in using the different forms of address in every case a 2nd person pronoun has to be used in the translation of the biblical text.
As Voinov shows in Pronominal Theology in Translating the Gospels (in: The Bible Translator 2002, p. 210ff.), the choice to use either of the pronouns many times involved theological judgment. While the formal pronoun can signal personal distance or a social/power distance between the speaker and addressee, the informal pronoun can indicate familiarity or social/power equality between speaker and addressee.
Here, Jesus is addressing his disciples, individuals and/or crowds with the formal pronoun, showing respect.
In most Dutch translations, Jesus addresses his disciples and common people with the informal pronoun, whereas they address him with the formal form.