A VERY tight translation

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Hagoth
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A VERY tight translation

Post by Hagoth » Sun Feb 07, 2021 12:02 pm

This started as a response to jfro's project overview thread, but I moved it for derailment avoidance.

Concerning tight/loose translation. In the latest FairMormon newsletter Dan Peterson claims that not only is the BoM is written in Early Modern English, a form of English from the period of the KJV, but that Joseph used correct EModE language from that period that is not found in the KJV, which proves the book's authenticity.

This describes an extremely tight translation, to the degree that God very specifically tailored the language of the Book of Mormon for a small group of literate people living in England during the late 15th century, 400 years before Joseph dug up the plates. I can't imagine why God would do that, especially when the book itself claims to be written for the mostly non-English-speaking Native Americans who were the descendants of its Hebrew speaking authors, but if Dan says so...

But you know what would have been really impressive? If Joseph had translated the BoM into Romanized Iroquois and had to ask the "Lamanites" what it said.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

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Corsair
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Re: A VERY tight translation

Post by Corsair » Sun Feb 07, 2021 1:03 pm

So we can rightly assert that "curelom", "cumom", "horse", and "elephant" were all used in grammatically accurate ways. This is in addition to "ship" and "barge" for ocean crossings, not to mention "steel" and "chariot". The distinction between "swords" and "cimeters" is also illuminated so we should start looking for those in either Guatemala or Illinois, depending on your geography preferences.

This also indicates that the Joseph Smith translations in the Bible that don't show up in the Book of Mormon are entirely wrong, because a tight translation would have avoided any such fluff. The tight translation theory is even more fun than the loose translation theory.

Reuben
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Re: A VERY tight translation

Post by Reuben » Sun Feb 07, 2021 1:44 pm

What is with you guys, insisting that they evaluate all of the available evidence to see how well it fits with a theory? How are they supposed to wriggle out from between the rock and the hard place if you take away the grease?
Learn to doubt the stories you tell about yourselves and your adversaries.

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Hagoth
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Re: A VERY tight translation

Post by Hagoth » Sun Feb 07, 2021 2:10 pm

Reuben wrote:
Sun Feb 07, 2021 1:44 pm
What is with you guys, insisting that they evaluate all of the available evidence to see how well it fits with a theory? How are they supposed to wriggle out from between the rock and the hard place if you take away the grease?
There's still plenty of grease to be found if you have a good enough imagination. My wife just told me the Zoom Sunday school teacher assured the class that the rock-in-a-hat translation method never happened. He said we should take it on his authority as the grandson of Joseph Fielding Smith. How much grease depends on how slippery you need the pig to be.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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LSOF
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Re: A VERY tight translation

Post by LSOF » Sun Feb 07, 2021 2:11 pm

Considering that Joe uses "thou" and "ye" interchangeably, as in "O thou child of hell, why tempt ye me?", without distinction of number¹ or social station,² it's not correct Early Modern English. Joe would have been at least somewhat familiar with EModE, as he was familiar with the KJV. We also know that The Late War was in the area when Joe was a schoolboy, so he may well have read that too.

There was a trend at the time to translate antique works into antique English. I think in particular of 19th-century translations of Agamemnon (which I had to read for English class) and of the Pickthall translation of the Koran (though published a century after the Book of Mormon).

I say words and construct sentences which my parents, my fellows, and the books I read never did. That is indeed the greatest utility of language, that new ideas are expressible.

It is also interesting that no Native American languages are related to either Hebrew or Egyptian ("reformed Egyptian", so called, must logically bear some resemblance to the original thing, or else the name is wrong). The Egyptian language (which evolved into the Coptic language) is distantly related to Hebrew, both of them being Afroasiatic languages. The Nephite language should be more closely related to either than each is to the other, since it had much less time to distinguish itself. We know that Hindi, Farsi, and English are all related because the descendants of the same people settled all the areas where those languages are spoken. This can be confirmed both by linguistic and genetic evidence. There is no realistic way Semitic traces of any Nephite or Lamanite language would die out instantly, or even over thousands of years, even with a concentrated, conscious, dialect-supremacist programme, of the sort which is nowhere in the Book of Mormon.

The most commonly used and enduring words and constructs are the least likely to change. Think of how often the ancients would talk about oxen, women, sheep, the Sun — as compared to how oft they would talk about words, tables, seas, books; how often they went or had gone, ran or had run, ate or had eaten, or spake or had spoken — as compared to how often they sailed, travelled, communicated, or danced; how often they would use small numbers, like three, four, ten, twenty, as opposed to large numbers, like hundreds, thousands, millions, or billions. Compare Latin jux, German Joch, English yoke, and Sanskrit yoga. Let us count from 1 to 10 in these four languages.

1: unus, una, unum; eins; one; eka
2: duo, duæ, duo; zwei; two; dvi
3: tres, tres, tria; drei; three; tri
4: quattuor; vier; four; catur
5: quinque; fünf; five; pañca (cf. Greek pente)
6: sex; sechs; six; shash³
7: septem; sieben; seven; sapta
8: octo; acht; eight; ashta
9: novem; neun; nine; nava
10: decem; zehn; ten; dasa

Let us now count from 1 to 10 in Nahuatl, a representative "Lamanite" (Uto-Aztecan) language spoken in central Mexico; and Hebrew:

1: ce; echad, achat
2: ome; shnayim, shtayim
3: yei; shlosha, shalosh
4: nahui; arba'a, arba
5: macuilli; chamisha, chamesh
6: chicuace; shisha, shesh
7: chicome; shiv'a, sheva'
8: chicuei; shmona, shmone
9: chiconahui; tish'a, tesha'
10: mahtlactli; 'assara, 'eser

Apologists will stretch for such similarities as "ce" with "echad", or "chicuace" with "shisha", but that is all they can do. In languages which have tens of thousands of words, a few coincidences like these are bound to pop up. Compare the four Indo-European languages above: there is a clear and undeniable similarity across all four languages and all ten cardinals, to the extent that linguists can reconstruct the common ancestor to all of them and even determine approximately when it was spoken. Linguists ought to be able to do the same with all the indigenous languages of the Americas (or at least the Uto-Aztecan languages, if LGT is the truth) and find that the Hebrew of 600 BCE is their ancestor. But they're not. They can't. The Semitic languages are unrelated to the Uto-Aztecan, as these two comparisons clearly demonstrate.

Of course, all this is irrelevant to the apologist, who must dishonestly defend the indefensible, and whose last resort is always some variation on "God works in mysterious ways".

______________
¹ From the days of Old English even until now, "thou" has been the second-person singular nominative pronoun, with "ye" the plural of the same. The King James Bible does this throughout. Cf. modern High German "du" and "ihr".
² Starting with, I believe, Middle English, the distinction between "thou" and "ye" gained another dimension: that inferiors would address superiors as "ye" or "you", and that superiors would address inferiors as "thou". "Thou" started to die out as English society grew more egalitarian. See the dialogue between Hamlet and the Clown for example. This is called the T-V distinction. Cf. modern High German "du" and "Sie" (the capital S is important); also Spanish "tu" and "usted".
³ My Sanskrit transliteration is dodgy here. "sh" should be s with a dot under it, but I can't type that for whatever reason.
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jfro18
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Re: A VERY tight translation

Post by jfro18 » Sun Feb 07, 2021 2:20 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Sun Feb 07, 2021 2:10 pm
There's still plenty of grease to be found if you have a good enough imagination. My wife just told me the Zoom Sunday school teacher assured the class that the rock-in-a-hat translation method never happened. He said we should take it on his authority as the grandson of Joseph Fielding Smith. How much grease depends on how slippery you need the pig to be.
That's really unreal - at this point anyone who is still teaching that is only setting people up for a crash at some point.

And you're right about the Early Modern English problems. If you want to claim that Joseph Smith was accessing Early Modern English that was unavailable to others, then you have to explain the problems that do not fit with a tight translation.

This is, again, a perfect illustration as to why apologists only want to talk about one issue at a time, because this sounds *great* to members in isolation, but it just does not work when you have to address the many issues with a tight translation.

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Palerider
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Re: A VERY tight translation

Post by Palerider » Sun Feb 07, 2021 2:47 pm

LSOF wrote:
Sun Feb 07, 2021 2:11 pm
Joe would have been at least somewhat familiar with EModE, as he was familiar with the KJV. We also know that The Late War was in the area when Joe was a schoolboy, so he may well have read that too.
This also jumped out at me. Just because he used structure not found in the Bible doesn't mean that he wouldn't have read other books written in Elizabethan english that did use those structures.

Poor Dan loses again..... :cry:
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Re: A VERY tight translation

Post by Coop » Sun Feb 07, 2021 2:58 pm

"But you know what would have been really impressive? If Joseph had translated the BoM into Romanized Iroquois and had to ask the "Lamanites" what it said."

I don't comment often but this is brilliant!" Unfortunately if we had this type of evidence we wouldn't need faith. Or at least we would need less faith than we require now which may or may not be a good thing depending on your perspective. Still an interesting idea. I'm going to try this on some of TBM friends and see how it flies.

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Hagoth
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Re: A VERY tight translation

Post by Hagoth » Sun Feb 07, 2021 3:06 pm

Palerider wrote:
Sun Feb 07, 2021 2:47 pm
Just because he used structure not found in the Bible doesn't mean that he wouldn't have read other books written in Elizabethan english that did use those structures.
Or that in 500 pages of text he wouldn't have stumbled across some word combinations that align with EModE but are just his attempts to sound Bible-like.

The tight translation advocates emphasize the testimonies of Joseph's scribes who claim a new line of English text would not appear on the stone until the previous line had been recorded with no errors. This leaves no room for scribal errors, because it is God who puts the next line on the rock only when the transcription of the previous is perfect. That does not mesh well with many examples of the actual writing in the manuscript, such as:

“therefore I have wrote this epistle”, (3 Nephi 3:5)
“Adam and Eve, which was our first parents" (1 Nephi 5:11)
"and this he done that he might subject them to him" (Alma 2:10)
"that they did not fight against God no more" (Alma 23:7)
“they done all these things”, (Ether 9:29)
“when they had arriven to the promised land”, (Mosiah 10:15)
“and also much horses”, (Enos 1:21)
“as I was a going thither”, (Alma 10:8)
“and this shall be your language in them days”, (Helaman 13:37)
“they were not sufpiceentle strong to meet them”, (Alma 56:23)
“whosoever will com may come & partak of the waters of life”, (Alma 42:27)
"the workmenshup thereof was exceding fine”, (145:34)
"their yuarrelings & their plunders there idoleti and their whoardoms“, (Alma 50:21)
"i also beheld a Strait and mrrough path which came”, (1 Nephi 8:20)
"after that i had truvededror the space for of menny hours”, (1 Nephi 8:8)
(R. Skousen, Grammatical-variation, interpreterfoundation.org, R. Skousen, The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text, FARMS)
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

Thoughtful
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Re: A VERY tight translation

Post by Thoughtful » Sun Feb 07, 2021 4:17 pm

TL/DR summary:

JS had a knack for plagiarism and a knack for assuming a EModE voice.

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Palerider
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Re: A VERY tight translation

Post by Palerider » Sun Feb 07, 2021 10:31 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Sun Feb 07, 2021 3:06 pm
examples of the actual writing in the manuscript, such as:

“therefore I have wrote this epistle”, (3 Nephi 3:5)
“Adam and Eve, which was our first parents" (1 Nephi 5:11)
"and this he done that he might subject them to him" (Alma 2:10)
"that they did not fight against God no more" (Alma 23:7)
“they done all these things”, (Ether 9:29)
“when they had arriven to the promised land”, (Mosiah 10:15)
“and also much horses”, (Enos 1:21)
“as I was a going thither”, (Alma 10:8)
“and this shall be your language in them days”, (Helaman 13:37)
“they were not sufpiceentle strong to meet them”, (Alma 56:23)
“whosoever will com may come & partak of the waters of life”, (Alma 42:27)
"the workmenshup thereof was exceding fine”, (145:34)
"their yuarrelings & their plunders there idoleti and their whoardoms“, (Alma 50:21)
"i also beheld a Strait and mrrough path which came”, (1 Nephi 8:20)
"after that i had truvededror the space for of menny hours”, (1 Nephi 8:8)
So this makes me curious.

If Joseph was using Oliver Cowdery as his scribe for much of this, why is Oliver (who is supposedly better educated) allowing these obvious grammatical and spelling errors to survive? I understand that between the printer and Oliver there were some corrections made before the book went to print but why would Oliver have copied them down that way in the first place? Isn't it obvious that they are incorrect :?:
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

George Washington

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moksha
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Re: A VERY tight translation

Post by moksha » Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:09 pm

I think those who pray earnestly can have a burning in their bosom, and have a fairly lucid dream about that fun-loving group of English bards sitting in a London tavern back in the 16th Century and using Early Modern English to write the Book of Abraham. As long as the proprietor keeps bringing flagons of mead, the prophecies can continue.

If not for the Great Vowel Shift, we could understand the very words of God.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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nibbler
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Re: A VERY tight translation

Post by nibbler » Tue Feb 09, 2021 6:30 am

It was a very tight translation. No exceptions.

Brethren, adieu.
We see things not as they are, but as we are ourselves. - H.M. Tomlinson

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