https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KittyCat1975

Question about Bible Verses

Hallo Duoligo Freunden:

Every day I read a Deutsch Bible verse, then translate. I have learned a lot this way. Here is the website: http://dailyverses.net/de/zufalls-bibelvers

Anyway, I have a question with this particular verse:

Du bist mein Schutz und mein Schild; ich hoffe auf dein Wort

When speaking to God, would you not use "Sie sind" out of respect? Or is the familiarity part of the tone? Anyone know?

Danke!

April 22, 2015

60 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bvogel1

I was curious about that same thing in French, where the Lord's Prayer uses "tu" instead of "vous". My friend who's been a French teacher for some 40 years explained that it's because the relationship between God and his followers is extremely close, like a child and a parent, whereas I myself would have used "vous" out of respect if it had been up to me (and if I happened to be the religious type).

Have a lingot because I'm sorry for your downvotes; I hope it's not just because of the Bible question. Sheesh, language learning is language learning, no matter what text one is learning from.

April 22, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SimoneBa

This is interesting. Up to a hundred years or so, children used to address their parents with the formal "Sie", not the "Du". In Spain, this was still fairly common 50 or so years ago as a mark of respect.

And I agree, these downvotes are ridiculous... the first line should have read "Hallo Duolingo Freunde", not "Freunden", but so what? And if the poster likes to use Bible verses to practice her language skills, then why not? Whatever works and keeps you motivated is fine, surely?

April 22, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KittyCat1975

Thanks for the tip on "Freunden". To get a downvote for trying to learn is ridiculous, and isn't that why we have this discussion group? To practice using the language? I think I will refrain from posting here now if that is how it is, because one cannot learn in a hostile atmosphere. Thanks for your help!!

April 22, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SimoneBa

You will always get useful answers here to your language questions, and that's what counts. Just ignore the downvotes, would be my advice. People get downvoted for all sorts of bizarre things nobody can even fathom.

April 22, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LennStar

It could also mean they are just not interested in your question. Nobody read any rules about what to upvore/downvote or did I miss them?

or they could mean that bible verses are not a good thing to learn from because their official versions are not really translations from current language A to current language B.

For example there are 3 versions of Vater Unser that where used widely just in the last century I think.

April 23, 2015

[deactivated user]

    I agree and I ignore the downvotes. I just try to learn from every translation I proofread. Some are great translators. Thanks for offering your feed-back.

    April 24, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/asawp

    If you check back you'll see it has 8 upvotes now :) Wherever you are there will be one or two people that try to ruin the experience. The vast majority of users in the discussion forum genuinely want to help!

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OnesimusUnbound

    Some tend to judge your post by its title alone without reading the content.

    Just ignore them, anyway your post and the replies are interesting.

    April 24, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KittyCat1975

    Actually, the bible is wonderful poetry, and it is why I read it. Who knew it would get such a response? Thank you very very much!

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/asawp

    It is very useful as a learning tool and certainly has beautiful poetry. I have a sister who likes comparing the Bible in different languages and it has helped her immensely!

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pseudocreobotra

    [Disclaimer: Opinions and experiences of a 20-something German. Older people might have a different opinion on these topics as the.]

    "Sie" has a really, really formal connotation. And old-fashioned It's not just respect, it's distance. You use "Sie" if you barely know each other and don't have a strong intention in changing but but rather want to keep your distance. You use "Sie" when adressing a teacher, a doctor, some stranger on the road or a vendor... Someone to whom you don't have a deeper emotional relationship. Some people adress their in-laws with "Sie" but that's rare and pretty much shows that you have an awful relationship to them.

    "Sie" isn't used as often in German as many language learners seem to think. Even at workplaces, it's becoming less common because it's very hierarchic and stiff and well... People want a friendlier atmosphere! Also, you (usually) don't use it when being introduced to friends of your friends or meeting a blind date or basically on the entire internet. There is no "Sie" at the internet ;)

    So... It doesn't matter how much you respect someone. If you are close (or want to get close), it's way more common to use "du" and anything else will come off as very stiff and distanced. Since that isn't exactly the kind of relationship that religion promotes... It would be very awkward to use "Sie".

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DPatten0605

    Interesting response. American society has moved to become more relaxed and familiar in many respects. Formal language and even formal attire is much less common than it was 50 or 60 years ago. It is interesting to see that we are not the only ones changing.

    Whether this is good or bad, well, I will leave that to a sociology website! =)

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pseudocreobotra

    Actually, I thought that it might be some American influence. People seem to be much more open over there and way quicker to call someone a friend (even if use "du" for someone that doesn't automatically mean that you'd call them your friend in Germany)... And with the whole world growing closer together, it just seemed natural to me that this might be the cause for less formality (especially in 'future oriented' fields).

    But I guess changes like this are happening all around the world.

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bvogel1

    As an American, I'd agree about the open and casual society... as an example, most young people are on a first-name basis with their bosses, even if there's quite an age discrepancy. There still does seem to be a definite "tu/vous" division in French, though. I once made the mistake of addressing a colleague of mine whom I don't know well with "tu" and he looked completely shocked.

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pseudocreobotra

    I'm with my bosses on a first-name basis too (if you use "du", you use the first names too) but well... It's not an entirely typical environment. In a lot of workplace environments, "Sie" is still the norm and I'm only using "du" with my department and a few other older colleagues. Plus almost every colleague who's roughly my age.

    "Sie" is just safer. You might earn a weird glance and laughter if you address someone in a too formal way but´it's unlikely that it'll offend anyone if you use it as your default.

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pseudocreobotra

    Well, thanks to the flexibility of the German language, it's quite possible to avoid pronouns! It's sometimes a bit awkward but you usually find a way to phrase it differently. E.g. instead of asking "Könntest du/Könnten Sie mir bitte das Salz geben?", you can ask "Könnte ich bitte das Salz haben?" which is on a similar politeness level but avoids the du/Sie issue.

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KittyCat1975

    Best response... Have a lingot!! Danke!

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lorel90

    Thanks for sharing this. I thought that Sie was the way to speak to most people.

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pseudocreobotra

    Well... Technically it is since you don't know most people at all ;) If you would ask a stranger on the streets for directions or the time, you WOULD use "Sie".

    Anyway, it really depends on your environment. As I said, it's about my environment and my experiences... And even with this limited perspective, it's a complicated matter. Even native speakers often feel a bit uncomfortable when they are in a new environment and have to figure out what level of familiarity is acceptable.

    One of the worst things is being in a new relationship and meeting your partner's parents for the first time! It's hard in any languages but this distinction between "du" and "Sie" makes it even more complicated in my opinion. I never knew which one would be less awkward and usually ended up avoiding using personal pronouns for them unless I was sure that "du" is acceptable. So much for "less awkward". Luckily, no one noticed it so far x:

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/basti37

    About meeting the parents: If everyone is an adult, I would expect that the parents offer "Du", at least implicitely, e.g. by telling you their first name themselves:

    Let's say you're called Markus and the parent is called Erika. If the parents say:

    "Hallo Markus" = you can use Du

    "Hallo, ich bin Erika" = you can use Du

    If your partner introduces everyone and tells everyone the first names of the others and the parent just says "Hallo" when shaking hands then it is still tricky (I think this is a mandatory hand-shaking situation in Germany btw).

    Maybe a clever way here would be then to use "Sie" right away ("Freut mich, Sie kennenzulernen") and hope that "Du" will then be offered by the parents. If you don't clear up the "Du"/"Sie" situation right away then it gets really awkward as you said.

    There is a clear hierarchy in this situation so the decision is up to the parents.

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pseudocreobotra

    Yes if they'd introduce themselves with their first names, it would be easier. But so far, I've rarely been formally introduced. It tended to be quite casual and like "Hello! Mum, this is X. X, this is my mother." "Nice to meet you, X" "It's a pleasure"... Not really helpful when trying to figure out what would be acceptable.

    If I'm really unsure, I tend to use "Sie" in the beginning too but well... It's an awkward situation far too often..

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bvogel1

    This in-law issue reminds me of my (American) parents, who managed to be married for 25 years without, in my recollection, ever calling their in-laws anything at all. They didn't use first names, or "mom and dad", or anything. They couldn't have gotten away with that in Germany; they would have had to pick a pronoun!

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BrookeLorren

    I was wondering about that. People in the US, at least, tend to be a lot less formal than they used to. I wondered if that was happening in other countries around the world as well. At least I know the answer for Germany now :-).

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnWycliffe

    That has been my experience learning German. I have a copy of Martin Luther's translation of the New Testament in German and I can't remember him using "Sie" when someone is speaking to God. I find "du" to be more personal; if you were unfamiliar with God you could use "Sie" but it makes no sense if you know someone well, unless you want to be ultra polite.

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SimoneBa

    All imaginary friends are referred to in the singular familiar (Du), and this also applies to God. Although you might find references using the familiar plural (Ihr) in some older texts.

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Br4him

    All imaginary friends

    I see what you did there

    LOL'd

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KittyCat1975

    SimoneBa, are you being funny, or are you serious about the "imaginary friend?" I seriously want to know.

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SimoneBa

    The thought amused me... no offence meant ;-) Keep going with your translations!

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KittyCat1975

    Oh, I honest to goodness thought that you were being serious! I thought: "How interesting!" LOL!!

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sigmacharding

    It is the difference between the Jewish and Christian views of God

    Judaism teaches that God is distant, all powerful and awesinspiring while Christianity teaches a God that is all powerful, awesinspiring, close and personal.

    That is why thou, thee, thy, thine is used in english (these were the informal versions- I'd imagine it is the same in german)

    Dia duit!- Ach tá sé linn fós :)

    April 25, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Eitz

    I'm sorry but she was... >:P

    April 24, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dtremenak

    In languages with T-V distinction, God is usually addressed intimately by convention. If you read the Bible in an older variety of English, or some modern translations, you'll observe that English speakers used to address God informally also (i.e. as "thou", which was the informal/intimate form of "you" until just a few centuries ago when English lost T-V distinction).

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kupgup

    Came here to say this.

    Confusion over the T-V distinction in English is often reinforced, too, when people misuse "thee" and "thou" in order to make something sound pompous or formal. (Dead giveaway: Tacking on "eth" or "est" to anything other than a verb. That makes me literally cringe.)

    It's good to remember that "archaic" and "old fashioned" are not the same as "formal." Addressing others casually isn't a modern innovation.

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KittyCat1975

    Is Sie archaic, or formal? If I were to meet a friend's elderly parents, would I use "Sie" or "Du"? Also, In a formal prayer, then, would I use "Du?"

    For instance, in America some elderly people I know prefer to be called "sir." and "ma'am", if they are old enough. Is there a similar thing with German elderly and "sie"? I don't want to offend anyone.

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dtremenak

    You should use "Sie" for non-relatives who are significantly older than you (including your friend's elderly parents). In formal prayer you should use "du." For example, the Common Table Prayer is traditionally: "Komm, Herr Jesu; sei du unser Gast; und segne, was du uns bescheret hast."

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/airforce132

    "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest and let these gifts to us be blest" is the Common Table Prayer used by German Lutherans in the US also. :-)

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nobbelfludd

    i feel obliged to clarify that that might be a common table prayer but it doesnt mean that praying at the table is common. in fact i have never met anyone who prays at the table.

    edit: this is true for my german environment to clear that up too.

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bvogel1

    I have family members who pray at the table. I don't see them often but when I do, I enter their home reminding myself "wait for the prayer, wait for the prayer" so I don't embarrass myself at dinner.

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bvogel1

    Just speaking for myself, I think I would always prefer to err on the side of being too formal, and possibly then being invited to be more casual by the party I'm addressing. I'm a secretary and I always address people that I communicate with by phone or e-mail with "Mr.", "Mrs." or "Ms.", although I notice that few people hesitate to use my first name if they've read it in my signature rather than using my title (and it kinda bugs me, truth be told... I guess I'm an old fogey).

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KittyCat1975

    My poor daughter has gotten scolded for calling people my age (40) "mr." or "Mrs." It's so confusing these days, because people have a real fear of being "old", and get bent out of shape when they are reminded of it. But with very old people, I always err on the side of caution. :)

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/anne_omoly

    When you're learning German, it's much easier to see thou hast = du hast / thine (and thy) = dein

    April 27, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katie_Kat01

    He is our father we cry to him and say "abba father" which means "daddy God". I don't think he cares if we use formalities or not. He is daddy God.

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bvogel1

    This isn't a language-learning comment, but... when I went to church with my family back in the mid-70's, every time I saw "abba" in the Bible I couldn't help thinking of the musical group which was so popular at the time.

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katie_Kat01

    LOL that's hilArious!!! I love that

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bvogel1

    I never dared tell my parents that I had "SOS" and "Ring Ring" going through my head instead of paying attention to the pastor.

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/joyful818

    I am giving you my very first lingot because I have enjoyed the discussion so much. I am an American Lutheran with a German heritage and a degree in Theology. All of the comments have been rich and right on (even the reference to the group Abba!) Thank you for the great discussion!

    April 24, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ricimer

    It's worth recalling that when English still employed the familiar 'thou', God was referred to this way. The Lords Prayer used to be "Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come etc" (maybe it still is, I presume they've updated it but I'm not Christian). It looks like German has kept this.

    Unfortunately English speakers have come to associate 'thee' and 'thou' with a formal tone implying a 'power distance', like in Star Wars when Vader says "What is thy bidding my Master". As far as I can recall this is the only time Vader uses 'thee'. Originally 'thou' was only for family and loved ones, not Emperors.

    What's more, the Latin Vulgate Bible uses the familiar 'tu' for God. The theological implications of this are that the Christian God is supposed to be a personal and familiar God, rather than a distant one.

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StrapsOption

    I believe the idea is that we would talk to God as we would a close friend or a father. Our relationship with Him isn't formal, it's close and personal, so we use the familiar form.

    April 25, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lorel90

    You got the answer. Thanks for sharing the site, I have been wanting to read some verses in German. A lingot for you

    April 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/airforce132

    Yes, thank you for the link! I am an American German Lutheran and I one of my main reasons for learning German is to get in better touch with my faith tradition.

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KittyCat1975

    Danke!!

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aietra

    I wonder if this varies with denominations of Christianity. I know in English there are denominations that consider God to be a best friend or a kind father-figure who you can talk to very personally and be comfortable with; whereas there are other denominations who consider God to be an all-powerful and very high-above-us sort of being who will deal out divine retribution to anyone who doesn't "fear" him. So I wonder if, across German culture, there are some denominations that would go with Sie and some that would use Du.

    Very interesting question, AmyMarchetta!

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sakasiru

    I don't think there is a denomination which officially does this, at least in Germany. (I just googled this a bit, and found out that in the Netherlands, you indeed use the formal "u" for God). It just doesn't match with the distance you express through saying "Sie". The "Sie" is also much younger than most prayers, and people don't change a prayer just because the custom of addressing people changes.

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aietra

    Ahhh, interesting! Thanks!

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Willian0905

    good

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Potatosage

    It's the same in English. So the Book of Common Prayer wording of the Lord's Prayer includes "thy will be done (rather than your will be done). However, in English the second person singular (thee, thou, thy, thine) has fallen out of general use, so evryone is now "you".

    April 25, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/viini78

    Das ist ein bisschen witzig: 1 Timotheus/4/7 "Die ungöttlichen und altweibischen Fabeln aber weise ab, übe dich aber zur Gottseligkeit;"

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Helen_Hohenheim

    This is actually an extremely interesting question universally. In Czech (a Slavic language), vy also definitely say "ty" and not "vy" when talking to God. I googled it a bit and apparently there are two main theories for that: 1) it might point to one's truly deep inner connection to God, 2) it might have been decided by some clerical authority a long time ago. I guess we'll probably never find out, but I vote for some version of 1).

    Thank you for the food for thought, I really never considered this before :)

    April 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nnfarias

    Well, it's not exactly an answer to your question (since it's been pretty much clarified by a bunch of nice people already), but I found this Memrise course about religous/biblical vocabulary and I think it might be interesting for you! :) http://www.memrise.com/course/300024/christian-vocabulary-german/

    April 25, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Reynir4536

    No, we say DU, when we speak to God. God is universal, and everyone is on an equal footing with Him. Polite society is man-made.

    June 12, 2018
    Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.