Some un-English-like features of Coptic:
(1) All variations of Coptic share the feature of many other natural languages (other than English), wherein all nouns are classified as either "male" or "female". Although this seems clearly to be an undesirable feature for a natural language to have, the Nag Hammadi texts make it abundantly clear that the male-female distinction (or the elimination thereof) was an area of very great concern to the writers. This fact in itself is probably sufficient reason to retain the distinction in any translation which aims to be considered scholarly, but there are other good reasons as well, such as the fact that a disagreement in gender between a noun and its pronoun(s) may indicate a break in the Coptic text not otherwise apparent.

(2) Coptic shares another feature of many languages other than English, in distinguishing between singular and plural usages of the word 'you' and its derivatives. (This seems to be quite a sensible and useful feature, unlike (1)). Again, one of the major reasons for retaining this feature, even though it introduces a further degree of awkwardness, is that a difference between the singular and plural senses of 'you', 'your', etc., may indicate a break in the Coptic text not otherwise apparent.

(3) Coptic has no true passive voice (although it does have some essentially-passive verbs). Where we would say "He was begotten", the Coptic says "They begot him", the passive voice being assumed if the word 'they' lacks a referent. Obviously, this introduces an element of ambiguity, since the choice between the active meaning and the passive one depends on the presence or absence of a referent for 'they'. In these cases, I have always used the active voice, on the grounds that (1) if pieces of Thomas are moved around, a seemingly-missing referent may be supplied (or an existing one removed), and (2) translating in the active voice more nearly captures the ambiguous flavor of the original, anyway. -MWG, rev 02/13/97