formal pronoun: disciples addressing Jesus

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, individual or several disciples address Jesus with the formal pronoun, expressing respect. Compare this to how that address changes after the resurrection.

In most Dutch translations, the disciples address Jesus before and after the resurrection with the formal pronoun.

complete verse (Mark 14:31)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 14:31:

  • Uma: “But Petrus strengthened his words all the more, he said: ‘Even if I die with you (sing.), I will not deny that I know you (sing.)!’ So also were the words of the other disciples.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But Petros spoke even more distinct, he said, ‘Even if I die together with you, I will really not deny you.’ And all of them, this is also what they said.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Peter didn’t agree with that, and he said, ‘Even if I am killed along with you, I will not say that I do not know you.’ And then that was also the promise that his companion disciples made.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Then Pedro insisted saying, ‘Even if it-is-necessary that I die-with you (singular), I absolutely will not deny you (singular).’ And so also said all his fellow disciples.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But Pedro was insistent, saying, ‘Even if I will be killed along with you, I really won’t deny you!’ Like that too was said by all those other disciples.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)