God Didn't Say That

Bible Translations and Mistranslations

Another Gender Example from Modern Hebrew

I’m following up on my last post about gender and Modern Hebrew. And again, the point is not that ancient Hebrew and Greek are the same as Modern Hebrew (they’re not), but rather that we can learn about how gender works in human language by looking at examples.

The Hebrew word ish is one word for “man,” and in some contexts it is used to distinguish “man” and “woman.” One would never call a woman an ish but rather an isha.

Yet even so, in constructions like ish lo nifga, literally, “ish not was-injured,” the word ish is inclusive, and the phrase means, “no one was hurt.” It does not mean “no man was hurt.”

Again we see that the same word can be exclusive in one context, yet inclusive in another.

I think we have to take this very widespread linguistic phenomenon into account when we translate.

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September 14, 2009 - Posted by | general linguistics, translation theory | , , ,

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