The Greek that is typically translated/transliterated in English as “demon” is translated in Central Mazahua as “the evil spirit(s) of the devil” (source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation July, 1967, p. 5ff.).

In Sissala it is translated with kaŋtɔŋ, which traditionally referred to “either a spirit of natural phenomena such as trees, rivers, stones, etc., or the spirit of a deceased person that has not been taken into the realm of the dead. Kaŋtɔŋ can be good or evil. Evil kaŋtɔŋ can bring much harm to people and are feared accordingly. A kaŋtɔŋ can also dwell in a person living on this earth. A person possessed by kaŋtɔŋ does not behave normally.” (Source: Regina Blass in Holzhausen 1991, p. 48f.)

In Umiray Dumaget Agta it is translated as hayup or “creature, animal, general term for any non-human creature, whether natural or supernatural.” creature.” Thomas Headland (in: Notes on Translation, September 1971, p. 17ff.) explains some more: “There are several types of supernatural creatures, or spirit beings which are designated by the generic term hayup. Just as we have several terms in English for various spirit beings (elves, fairies, goblins, demons, imps, pixies) so have the Dumagats. And just as you will find vast disagreement and vagueness among English informants as to the differences between pixies and imps, etc., so you will find that no two Dumagats will agree as to the form and function of their different spirit beings.” This term can also be used in a verb form: hayupen: “creatured” or “to be killed, made sick, or crazy by a spirit.

See also devil and formal pronoun: demons or Satan addressing Jesus.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Mark 9:38 / Luke 9:49)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 exclusive form for the first and the second occurrences of “we” (“we saw” and “we tried”) (excluding Jesus) and either the exclusive or the inclusive pronoun for the third occurrence (“not following us” in English translations) (including or excluding Jesus). (Source: SIL International Translation Department (1999))

Both the Jarai and the Tok Pisin translations use the inclusive pronoun.

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 9:38)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 9:38:

  • Uma: “Yohanes said to him: ‘Teacher, we (excl.) saw a person expelling demons with your name, but we (excl.) forbid him, for he wasn’t one of our (incl.) followers.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Yahiya said to him, ‘Sir, we (excl.) saw a person (and) he uttered your name when he cast out demons from people. We (excl.) forbade him/told him not to because he does not follow us (incl.).'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And John said to Jesus, he said, ‘There is a person whom we saw healing people who are afflicted with demons. He was using your name in his curing. We scolded him because he doesn’t go around with us (incl.)'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Then Juan said to Jesus, ‘Sir teacher, we (excl.) saw a person who was causing-evil-spirits -to-leave using your (singular) name, and we (excl.) forbid him because he isn’t our companion.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “One of the disciples who was Juan spoke. He said, ‘Master, we (excl.) saw someone drive out an evil spirit, your name being what he mentioned. Well we told him to stop, for he wasn’t one of us (incl.).'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)