Re: Translating and Inclusive Language

From: James H. Vellenga (
Date: Mon Sep 08 1997 - 11:54:33 EDT

> Date: Sat, 06 Sep 1997 09:35:29 -0700
> From: "Dale M. Wheeler" <>
> Edward Hobbs wrote:
> >My response (Edward now) is that this isn't literal at all, for the
> >central issue in the Greek is that it is a 3rd person imperative, something
> >we don't have in English. Tony has changed this to a standard English 2nd
> >person imperative. The traditional way of translating Greek 3person-imp's
> >is to use "Let him/them ... " I don't like this, for it suggests
> >"Permit him to do thus", whereas the Greek is a command to someone other
> >than the speaker or the addressee. Circumlocutions are necessary in
> >English, since we lack this grammatical construction; but turning the
> >sentence into a second person direct command may not be the best way to do
> >it.
> >
> >I consider Jonathan's proposal quite clever; whether I would use it, I'm
> >not sure, but my sole reason for not doing so would be my discomfort with
> >the "Let..." construction, for which I have no alternative!
> Edward:
> I agree with you that "Let him/them..." is *bad* English nowadays (-:
> What I've started teaching my students is that in most cases third person
> imperatives can be translated into English using "must" or "should" (in
> fact, I think some of the translations have started to do this in
> certain cases).
> For the case at hand:
> "Whoever has (the) ears to hear, *should* pay attention !", or
> "Whoever has (the) ears to hear, *must* pay attention !"
> I don't remember where they are off the top of my head, but it seems
> to me that I've run into some 3rd Impvs which admit other subjunctive
> forces (sort of like permissive 2nd impvs); almost "might want to..."
Let me once more advocate the position that modern English
_does_ have an equivalent for the third person imperative
in the form of "Have him/her/them do whatever!" as in
"Have your secretary call me" or "Have Mr. Vellenga contact
the clinic directly."

This does not have the flavor of permission, nor does it
have the sense of mere duty ("should") or constraint ("must").

But since my suggestion has so far remained unresponded too
in previous postings, I guess I have to ask if I'm really
out to lunch on this. Does

  "Whoever has (the) ears to hear (with), have them listen!"

or more dramatically

  "Whoever has (the) ears to hear (with), have them listen up!"

really represent the nuances less accurately than the other
forms? And if so, what's the difference?

Jim V.

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