go vs. return

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.

complete verse (John 14:4)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 14:4:

  • Uma: “You know the way to go to my dwelling-place.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “And you know the way to where I am going.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And you know the way going to where I am going.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “You surely know the path the goes to where I am going.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “And you know the trail now which goes to this where I am going.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Now you know where I am going and you know the road.'” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

formal pronoun: Jesus addressing his disciples and common people

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.