Translating Gender

C ontroversy surrounds “gender inclusive” Bible translations such as TNIV. Suzanne McCarthy, commenting on Language and Gender on the Better Bibles Blog, points out the difficulty of translating gender into languages that do not have the same gender “structure”. French is Suzanne’s first example:
bq.. French vs. English
elle – she – singular pronoun fem.
il – he – singular pronoun masc.
elles – they – plural pronoun fem
ils – they- plural pronoun masc.
sa/son – her – sing possessive fem.
sa/son – his – sing possessive masc.
So for the singular pronoun there is no problem. For the plural pronoun French can indicate gender where English cannot. For the possessive, English can indicate gender where the French cannot. In this case gender in French reflects the gender of the object of the possessive not the subject.
p.. That’s relatively easy compared to Swahili, which is her second example. Swahili, she says, has eight genders:
bq.. Human, tree, thing (diminutive) appendages, liquid, flora and fauna, round, abstract
p.. How does that translate?

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