The Greek that is translated as “parable” in English is translated in other languages in a number of ways:

See also image and figures of speech.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (Matt. 13:36)

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 exclusive form (excluding Jesus).

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

complete verse (Matthew 13:36)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 13:36:

  • Uma: “After that, Yesus left behind those many people, and he entered into a house. His disciples approached him, they said: ‘Teacher, please tell us the meaning of the parable of the grass among the rice.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “So-then Isa left the crowds and went inside the house. His disciples went also there and they said to him, ‘Please explain to us the parable about the weeds in the field.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Then Jesus left the many people, and he went into the house. And his disciples followed him, and they said to him, ‘Explain to us the meaning of the bad plants in the field in your parable.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Then Jesus left the people and entered the house. His disciples followed him and they said, ‘Please explain to us (excl.) the parable concerning the weeds that grew-with the rice.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “After that teaching by Jesus was ended, he sent home that crowd and then went home with his disciples to the house. His disciples came close to him. They said, ‘Relate to us the meaning of that illustration of yours of the poisonous weeds in the field.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Jesus finished speaking with the people and went inside his house. His learners came to him and they said: ‘Tell us the meaning of the comparison you made about the seed which appeared like wheat which was planted in the field.'” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)


The Greek that is often translated as “disciple” in English typically follows three types of translation: (1) those which employ a verb ‘to learn’ or ‘to be taught’, (2) those which involve an additional factor of following, or accompaniment, often in the sense of apprenticeship, and (3) those which imply imitation of the teacher.

Following are some examples (click or tap for details):

In Luang several terms with different shades of meaning are being used.

  • For Mark 2:23 and 3:7: maka nwatutu-nwaye’a re — “those that are taught” (“This is the term used for ‘disciples’ before the resurrection, while Jesus was still on earth teaching them.”)
  • For Acts 9:1 and 9:10: makpesiay — “those who believe.” (“This is the term used for believers and occasionally for the church, but also for referring to the disciples when tracking participants with a view to keeping them clear for the Luang readers. Although Greek has different terms for ‘believers’, ‘brothers’, and ‘church’, only one Luang word can be used in a given episode to avoid confusion. Using three different terms would imply three different sets of participants.”)
  • For Acts 6:1: mak lernohora Yesus wniatutunu-wniaye’eni — “those who follow Jesus’ teaching.” (“This is the term used for ‘disciples’ after Jesus returned to heaven.”)

Source: Kathy Taber in Notes on Translation 1/1999, p. 9-16.