God Didn't Say That

Bible Translations and Mistranslations

Do All Men Experience Pain in Childbirth?

If we’re not careful, our Bible translations will wrongly alienate 51% of the English-speaking population, and perhaps offend even more. The issue (which has been addressed frequently — recently by me here and here, by Clayboy, Bill Mounce, and many others) is whether (orwhen) the English word “men” includes both men and women.

In my dialect, the answer is almost never. When I read or hear “men,” the word excludes women.

I’m told by people like Bill Mounce that in other dialects “men” is perfectly inclusive. So I have a question to the speakers of these dialects. Does “men” include the “women” here:

All men experience pain in childbirth.

More specifically, which (if any) of these make sense and mean what they clearly should?

1. All men experience pain in childbirth — women directly and their husbands vicariously.

2. Unlike the animals, all men experience pain in childbirth.

3. Unlike the gods, all men experience pain in childbirth.

4. Because they ate from the wrong tree, God punished men with pain in childbirth.

5a. In a rare alliance in the battle between man and machine, machines help men endure the pain of childbirth.

5b. In a rare alliance in the battle between man and machine, machine helps man endure the pain of childbirth.

6. Man experiences pain in childbirth both vicariously and directly.

7a. Unlike the animals, man experiences pain in childbirth.

7b. Unlike the gods, man experiences pain in childbirth.

What do you think?

December 7, 2009 Posted by | general linguistics, translation theory | , , , | 12 Comments