Should Translations Change Singular Pronouns to Plural?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Marcia, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. Marcia

    Marcia
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    Is it valid to change singular pronouns to plural, such as is done in the TNIV and also the NLT?

    Examples (the NLT also had plural pronouns like the TNIV):
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]
    Many believe that the Ps 8.4ff passage is Mesianic. So changing it to plural in that case seems inappropriate.

    If the original is singular, why change it to plural? There is no good reason, imo.
    [/FONT]
     
  2. TCGreek

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    The NLT and the TNIV may not be for everyone.

    The TNIV remains my Bible of choice. :thumbs:
     
  3. Gold Dragon

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    The reason this is done is because the english language does not have a genderless singular 3rd person pronoun. English speakers compensate for this deficiency in our language by using genderless plural 3rd person pronouns (them, they) as if they were singular. Translations that use plurals in this manner are following the current correct usage of pronouns in the english language.
     
  4. Marcia

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    I don't think so. Using "he" in the instances above and in hundreds of others, manages to convey the meaning. There is no need to go to "they" or to "them."

    And if that part of Ps 8 is messianic, doesn't that mess it up to change it to "they" instead of keeping "he?"
     
  5. TCGreek

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    Maybe this explanation from the TNIV website might prove helpful: here
     
  6. Marcia

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    Thanks for the link. I did read their explanation.

    But I still have this question: Why change "man?" It seems the only reason to do so is inclusiveness.

    As a woman who experienced a lot of bias and sexism, especially in my more youngish years, and as a former feminist, I see no reason to change this word. Using "man" in English still conveys the same idea the original Hebrew does - that it means all men, or rather, human beings.

    No one will think this means only men in these passages. So why change it? I think there needs to be a better reason for changing a Hebrew word to another word when translating. It also makes the language awkward, imo.
     
  7. TCGreek

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    So you think the TNIV and NLT are catering to the feminist community?
     
  8. Gold Dragon

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    The english language used to use the male pronouns as the gender inclusive ones. That is no longer the case so there is a need to go to the plurals to convey the correct meaning in modern english, just like how thees and thous are no longer used.

    I do not think the change messes up any messianic meaning. Hebrews 2 makes reference to Jesus as the fulfillment of Psalm 8 and that still stands with this translation. The last part of Hebrews 2:8 says in the NIV:

    "Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him."

    So the author of Hebrews does not interpret the singular him and son of man in this passage as referring specifically to Christ because in the next verse he counters verse 8 with:

    "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."
     
  9. Marcia

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    Not so much the feminist community but more a politically correct notion that has become more popular in recent years. I don't see this change used everywhere when English is written or spoken now. I still say "he" when I mean a generic "everyone," and so do lots of people.

    Aside from that, if it is understood with the use of "he" or "man," why change it?
     
  10. Marcia

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    I realize language changes, but it has not changed to the point that no one no longer uses "man" or "men" to mean everyone. This is still very much part of the English language. In some cases, it becomes very awkward to do otherwise, especially when it comes to pronoun usage.

    I used to try to speak and write not using "man" to mean everyone and finally gave up. It becomes ridiculous. Sometimes I'll say "men and women" or "humanity," depending on my mood, but it's not necessary. Everyone knows what I mean.

    But look at the TNIV for Heb. 2.8 (I'm starting at 6):
    I think it sounds awful. I would not want to read this.
     
    #10 Marcia, Mar 28, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2009
  11. TCGreek

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    Even guys like Dobson and Piper, who have been warring against the TNIV, have been exposed for using exactly what GoldenDragon demonstrated above - "genderless plural 3rd person pronouns (them, they) as if they were singular."
     
  12. Marcia

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    Yes, but Dobson and Piper are not writing God's word nor translating it. I don't care of Piper or Dobson or James White or whoever uses this format. The issue is whether one should make such changes to Scripture when translating? It really does change a lot of words and I do not see that it is warranted. There is no convincing reason to make these changes.
     
  13. jonathan.borland

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    Does any language have a "genderless" third person singular pronoun? I thought the whole idea of a pronoun was to take the place of a noun. Thus, most languages have "he," "she," and "it" pronouns. Most languages have a genderless noun, such as "person," but a genderless pronoun? Most languages I have studied use the masculine pronoun as the default pronoun. English traditionally has been no different. Written Chinese is like this.

    It is convenient in English to use the plural "they" because it is "genderless," referring to either masculine or feminine subjects. But many languages, like Chinese, have a feminine "they" and a "masculine" they, so that this convenient little "solution" is really kind of stupid and cannot be replicated in quite a number of languages.
     
  14. TCGreek

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    Marcia, I think you need to read several books on translation theories. Maybe they can help you.

    I'm not equip for that sort of thing.
     

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