Texas Bible (plugin): Fixing the Second Person Plural Problem One Website at a Time
Texas Has What English Lacks
As a preteen on my first visit out of the South, I remember hearing giggles from some people on the New York Subway whenever I spoke. Since I grew up in a large city, I knew that I didn’t have a traditional Texas twang, so it took me a while to realize what was so funny – my use of the word “Y’all” to refer to a group of friends.
Fast forward 20 years, and just about any time I teach the Bible I have to point out a place where the English Bible says “you,” but the original Hebrew or Greek term is you plural rather than you singular. In common English we use “you” for both singular (You are awesome) and plural (“you are a team”). Here in Texas (and in the Southern US more generally), I tell my audience the original Greek says, “y’all” and we all have a good laugh, but other areas of the English speaking world also have spoken forms of you plural such as “you guys,” “you all,” and even “yinz.”
So I initially set out to develop a plugin for a Bible software project that would convert all “You plurals” to “Y’all” for my Bible project. I liked it so much I decided to create a Google Chrome extension that does the same thing for some popular Bible websites (youversion.com/bible.com, biblegateway.com,biblehub.com).A few weeks ago, I decided to see how many times this happens. It turns out there are at least 4,720 verses (2698 in the Hebrew Bible and 2,022 in the Greek) with you plural translated as English “you” which could lead a reader to think it is directed at him or her personally rather than the Church as a community.