„Zalim ja jest stróżem brata mego?” (Rdz 4,9)

Here now is a comparison of two versions of a single verse, Genesis 4:9. This is the verse in the story of Cain and Abel where God asks Cain where his brother Abel is, after Abel’s having been killed by his brother in the field. The two versions to be compared are drawn from Biblia Tysiąclecia (BT), year 2012; and Biblia Jakuba Wujka (BJW), year 1923.

Biblia Tysiąclecia 2012

Wtedy Bóg zapytał Kaina: «Gdzie jest brat twój, Abel?» On odpowiedział: «Nie wiem. Czyż jestem stróżem brata mego?».

Wtedy (then) Bóg zapytał Kaina (God asked Cain): «Gdzie jest (where is) brat twój, Abel?» (thy brother, Abel?). On odpowiedział (he responded): «Nie wiem (I know not). Czyż jestem stróżem (am I ever the keeper) brata mego?» (of my brother?).

Cain’s name in Polish is Kain. The Polish for thy brother is expressed in this verse as brat twój, but twój brat is also possible. The Polish for I know not is nie wiem. Czy is employed in Polish to ask a yes-no question: czy jestem? (am I?); czyż is the emphatic form: czyż jestem? (am I ever?). The masculine noun stróż means keeper; it is found in this verse in instrumental position as stróżem, which may be likened to in the function of the keeper, as the keeper. The Polish for my brother is expressed in this verse as brat mój, but mój brat is also possible; more precisely, the text employs the genitive brata mego (of my brother), with mego brata also being possible. In place of mego, Polish also knows the form mojego.

Biblia Jakuba Wujka 1923

I rzekł Pan do Kaina: Gdzie jest Abel brat twój? Który odpowiedział: Niewiem: Zalim ja jest stróżem brata mego?

I (and) rzekł Pan (the Lord said) do Kaina (unto Cain): Gdzie jest (where is) Abel brat twój? (Abel thy brother?). Który odpowiedział (who responded): Niewiem (I know not): Zalim ja jest stróżem (am I the keeper) brata mego? (of my brother?).

Whereas in the BT we encounter Bóg zapytał (God asked), the BJW reads rzekł Pan (the Lord said). The Polish for God is Bóg, whereas Pan means the Lord. There is of course no word for the in Polish, wherefore the Lord is simply expressed as Pan. The perfective verb zapytać means to ask; the perfective verb rzec, on the other hand, means to say. In the BT, we encounter the nominative first, followed by the verb: Bóg zapytał; in the BJW, we find the verb placed before the nominative: rzekł Pan. The nominative may come before or after the verb in Polish. Kaina, in rzekł Pan do Kaina, is genitive in form, given that it follows the preposition do (unto). Whereas in the BT we encounter on odpowiedział (he responded), we find który odpowiedział (who responded) in the BJW. The Polish for I know not is nie wiem; this takes in the BJW the spelling niewiem, as one word. The BT employs czy (more precisely, the emphatic czyż) to ask a yes-no question; in the BJW, it is rather zali which is used to do the same. Ja jestem means I am, with the em of jestem being the marker of the first-person singular. This first-person singular marker is shifted to the end of zali to form zalim, and jest is left unmarked for person.