inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Mark 4:35 / Luke 8:22)

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, translators typically select the inclusive form (including the disciples).

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.

complete verse (Mark 4:35)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 4:35:

  • Uma: “That evening also, Yesus said to his disciples: ‘Let’s go to the other side of the lake.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “So-then that day when it was evening (magalib) already, Isa said to his disciples, ‘Let us (incl.) go (and) cross-over to the other side of the lake.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And when the sun went down then, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let’s go to the other side.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “When the sun was going down, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let’s cross-over (body of water).'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “When night was beginning on that same day, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let’s go to the other side of this lake.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)