Povu probably means "should", according to the Esperanto Bible: https://bit.ly/2FMTKVo

However, we already have devi. So I wonder, is there any nuance being expressed here?

I looked up PIV, Wikipedia, and ReVo, with no meaningful results.

1 Answer 1


I cannot read the text when I follow the link; is it Job 9:32?

Ĉar Li ne estas homo simile al mi,
Ke mi povu respondi al Li,
Ke ni povu ambaŭ iri al juĝo.

For he is not a man, as I am,
that I should answer him,
and we should come together in judgment. (KJV)

Here are more modern translations:

If God were human, I could answer him; we could go to court to decide our quarrel. (GNT)

He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. (NIV)

The KJV's use of should here, to mean merely would, is not totally archaic, but it is old-fashioned. Here is a quotation from Alice in Wonderland:

"For it might end, you know, [...] in my going out altogether, like a candle. I wonder what I should be like then?"

She isn't talking about what she ought to be, but about what she would be. It was formerly laid down as a rule in English that would cannot be used after I or we; it had to be replaced by should, and that I will implies a desire. This idea originated in the distinctions made by scholars translating from Latin:

The rule is [...] to express a future event without emotional overtones, one should say I shall, we shall, but you/he/she/they will; conversely, for emphasis, willfulness, or insistence, one should say I/we will, but you/he/she/they shall.

—John Wallis, Grammatica Linguae Anglicanae (1653)

Thus in the quotation from the Book of Job, ke mi povu respondi means "so that I would be able to answer", and the use of povu instead of just povus implies that it is a desire: Job would like to make an answer.


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