On FB, Timothy Michael Law shared a link to a hilarious post translating "Thou shalt not" in biblical commands as "can u just not?". By all means go read it.
*Exodus 20:17 *
“Can u not covet thy neighbour’s house, can u not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. can u just not.”
“And when you pray, can u not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
This is a delightful exercise in register in translation. There is nothing wrong with this rendering from a literal perspective, generally speaking. However, I think we'd all agree that it changes the meaning of the text because these words evoke a different socio-linguistic web of contexts than does "thou shalt not."
These two options are at the extreme ends of the spectrum, but other renderings in between them have similar—though more nuanced—impact on meaning. Other options for Exod 20:17 include "You shall not covet" [NRSV, etc.], "Do not covet" [HCSB, etc.], "You must not covet" [NLT], "Let not your desire be turned" [BBE], "Do not desire your neighbor’s house" [CEB], and the scolding tone of the Message's "No lusting after your neighbor’s house."
There are two questions. First, which one best captures the tone and intention of the original? I like "you must not," personally. Second, which one is the most effective in communicating the ethical/moral imperative invested in these texts by the translating/reading community? In all honesty, one could make a case for "can u just not?"