Re: Translating and Inclusive Language

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Mon Sep 08 1997 - 13:32:01 EDT

At 11:54 AM 9/8/97 -0400, James H. Vellenga wrote:
>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."

I don't think this is the same meaning - "Have your secretary call me"
indicates that I expect you to contact your secretary and ask her to call
me, and you would not use this form if your secretary were there (at least,
not without insulting her). Jesus is not asking us to look around to see if
there are people who have ears, and to tell such people to listen.

I think this is a form of ironic humor -- he is asking the people in the
audience to examine themselves to see if they have ears, and if they find
that they do, then they should listen. When my children aren't listening, I
often say, "you got your ears on?" I think the humor involved is very similar.

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

I think that by starting with "if anyone" or "whoever" and doing a sneaky
switch to a second person imperative that clearly applies to the person in
the antecedent, we can come closer to the original meaning:

Mark 4:23 "If anyone has ears to hear with, listen up!"

This is my current favorite for Mark 4:23. There are many similar phrases in
other verses that aren't identical. I suppose it would be more literally
correct to say: "If anyone has ears to hear with, that person should hear!",
but this is horribly leaden English, and it certainly loses any humor at all
- it sounds like bureaucratic jargon.


Jonathan Robie
POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703

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