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The Book of Mormon is a conundrum.

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2 hours ago, Gervin said:

Are any EModE phrases or words found in the extant portions?

By that you mean extrabiblical, exclusively Early Modern English phraseology or lexis. Yes. Here's an example:

1 Nephi 17:34–48 [5:119–153] (O, Franklin Richards acquisition, LDS collection, recto, page 35)

33     [-]rd he can cause the earth that it shall pass a{n|w}ay yea & ye know that by his word [h](  )
                                                                                                                                                                        E

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2 hours ago, champatsch said:

By that you mean extrabiblical, exclusively Early Modern English phraseology or lexis. Yes. Here's an example:

1 Nephi 17:34–48 [5:119–153] (O, Franklin Richards acquisition, LDS collection, recto, page 35)

33     [-]rd he can cause the earth that it shall pass a{n|w}ay yea & ye know that by his word [h](  )
                                                                                                                                                                        E

Thanks.  From just this example, it appears there are interesting marks and edits on the original transcribed document that must be useful for analyzing EmodE.  Correct?  And also critically important to understanding the process of plates --> spoken word --> written pages.  This document was, literally, in the room where it happened (?).  Is such an analysis published or otherwise available on line?

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18 hours ago, Gervin said:

Thanks.  From just this example, it appears there are interesting marks and edits on the original transcribed document that must be useful for analyzing EmodE.  Correct?  And also critically important to understanding the process of plates --> spoken word --> written pages.  This document was, literally, in the room where it happened (?).  Is such an analysis published or otherwise available on line?

I provided a line from Skousen's diplomatic transcription of O.  It's on page 143 of his 2001 book which contains the transcription of the 28 percent of the original manuscript (O) that still survives, much of it only legible under special lighting.

Edited by champatsch

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On 4/6/2019 at 7:36 PM, champatsch said:

In trying to think of the big picture, I have concluded that this issue boils down to whether one thinks that a lack of biblical support and late modern support for Book of Mormon usage is meaningful—that is, indicative of improbable coincidence with earlier usage.  From what I can tell, your position is that lack of such support for original Book of Mormon usage is not meaningful. [Emphasis added.]

My position is that you haven't shown how improbable the coincidence is. You've just shown (I assume, pending second opinions from experts) that there is a coincidence.

Quote

I don't see the oral/written distinction as important, since they both depend on native-speaker competence. In any event, producing a considerable amount of non-native language (in this case, pseudo-biblical language) is more likely in contemplative writing than it is in relatively fast oral production. This follows from the reality that a pseudo-biblical author has to consciously depart, in form and structure, from subconscious, native-speaker patterns in a persistent manner.

My point is not that oral dictation makes it easier to produce archaic language. It's that oral dictation makes it easier to mess up archaic language, for example by producing Early Modern forms when you're aiming for King James Bible.

Quote

As I wrote elsewhere, human creativity means that any knowledgeable person can make a case for hypercorrection about any English usage. But in the case of the original Book of Mormon text, a reasonable person admits that the odds of hypercorrection are extremely low and tenuous in the absence of external support, as determined by careful, systematic analysis of a wide variety of attested usage. [Emphasis added.]

I disagree with the bolded part. I don't pretend to be able to prove that the odds of hypercorrection are high, but I find it far from obvious that they are low. Can you cite any studies to support your low estimate?

Edited by Physics Guy

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15 hours ago, Physics Guy said:

My position is that you haven't shown how improbable the coincidence is. You've just shown (I assume, pending second opinions from experts) that there is a coincidence.

My point is not that oral dictation makes it easier to produce archaic language. It's that oral dictation makes it easier to mess up archaic language, for example by producing Early Modern forms when you're aiming for King James Bible.

I disagree with the bolded part. I don't pretend to be able to prove that the odds of hypercorrection are high, but I find it far from obvious that they are low. Can you cite any studies to support your low estimate?

The degree of improbability only derives from a cumulative case. First we note coincidence; that eventually becomes improbable coincidence; ultimately we have an overall case of extremely improbable coincidence. In other words, once we identify a dozen or so clear coincidences, each successive coincidence begins to solidify a case for improbability. 50 to 100 coincidences multiply to something extremely improbable.

In the case of hypercorrection, we can take, say, 10 strong cases not explicable by hypercorrection. (We can define a low probability case of hypercorrection as a lack of pseudo-biblical support, biblical support, and late modern textual support.) These are, if you will, the anchoring pieces of evidence. Add to those 10 cases 40 weaker cases, supported by the 10. These multiply to a probability value that could be described vaguely as extremely low.

The only reasoned examination of Book of Mormon hypercorrection I've seen is a limited one in a recent dissertation. I mentioned it in the paper. The author did some good, preliminary analysis, but tended to overstate hypercorrection, as I briefly discussed in the case of wroth ~ angry. I'm not criticizing the author at all, since I appreciate his work, and recognize that the scope of his study was limited, as he looked at 10 different texts and corpora.

There are certainly a number of simple, obvious cases of biblical hypercorrection in the Book of Mormon, and there are less obvious candidates for hypercorrection as well, like "before that S" usage.  But there are certainly many cases that are not reasonably explained as hypercorrections because of a lack of support.

We might think of co-authoring a paper, using the following working title as a guide: "The brilliant biblical hypercorrections of Joseph Smith"; or perhaps, "Early modern coincidence in the Book of Mormon".

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I don't understand how you're using this concept of "support". The hypothesis that I don't think you've ruled out is that Smith tried hard to dictate just like the King James Bible, but through lack of expertise and lack of time to revise, he made systematic errors—he got King James grammar wrong. His divergences from King James usage would thus not be at all like those of educated writers producing texts for entertainment. Neither would they simply be random errors, however. He would be following systematic rules that were incorrect for his target dialect—but also happened to be more correct for an earlier period.

I don't see how you can rule out this hypothesis by looking at any published pseudo-Biblical works by educated writers who were not trying to deceive. There is no reason why their pseudo-Biblical language should have anything to do with the systematic errors in imitating King James by an uneducated deceiver who didn't edit his text.

I don't see how you can rule out this hypothesis by looking at the Bible or any other late modern texts, either. The hypothesis is that Smith made systematic mistakes. So his language would not simply be Biblical, nor would it resemble late modern texts that did not made mistakes in their own proper grammar.

And I don't see how you can rule out this hypothesis just by accumulating multiple examples of Early Modern usage in the Book of Mormon. The hypothesis is that Smith's errors in imitating King James usage were systematic. Like anyone trying to speak in a dialect they don't properly master, he followed incorrect rules. If he got something wrong (for King James) once, he would get it wrong that way again and again—just as if he were following the right rule for Early Modern English.

I don't see where you have even addressed this possibility. You seem to be simply ignoring it.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Physics Guy said:

I don't see where you have even addressed this possibility. You seem to be simply ignoring it.

While Stanford hasn't addressed this I have brought it up a few times. There were quite a few uneducated preachers with bad grammar who used KJV language in their sermons. We'd expect the grammatical structures Stanford brings up to pop up in at least some of these 19th century texts if what you outline was what Joseph was doing. These texts also meet the other criteria of being primarily oral yet put in a printed form. Preachers like Dwight L. Moody make an obvious test base. 

The bigger issue as I've brought up before is survival in spoken dialects. I've done a bit more research and there are interesting studies on EmoE persisting into the 19th century albeit usually focused on words that can be searched for in EDD (English Dialect Dictionary). Manfred Markus' "The Survival of Shakespeare’s Language in English Dialects" is but one example. If words persist I think there's prima facie reason to think other structures could persist. (Sorry originally had links but the forum software is rejecting my post if I include them)

Edited by clarkgoble
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Posted (edited)

It would indeed be worth looking at sermons by uneducated preachers, if their speech has been preserved accurately. This was a good suggestion of yours, and Carmack seems to have recognized that it would be nice to do something along these lines; but he seems to think of it as an added luxury. He doesn't seem to realize that he really needs to close this loophole because until he does, he does not have a case against 19th century composition. 

It's not going to be easy to close this loophole. I'd be surprised if one could get a large enough sample from preachers to be confident of a pattern to which Smith would have had to conform. If the preachers were mostly just quoting the King James Bible, for instance, even in pastiche, then their accuracy in matching KJV grammar would not show what would have happened if they had tried to improvise an entirely new text of considerable length in a KJV style. On the other hand one might kill the whole Carmack argument against 19th century composition with one shot here, if lots of EModE usages turned up in rural preaching. So on the scientific principle of trying to falsify theories, rural sermons should be a high priority for Carmack to check.

The possibility that Smith actually spoke archaic English in his local rural dialect is another big loophole in Carmack's argument. I haven't been talking about it because other people (mainly you, Clark) seemed to be covering it, but it's clearly another major issue.

I can't blame Carmack for not (yet?) having covered these loopholes. They're going to be an awful lot of work to cover, and it's not clear that it will ever be possible to cover them convincingly because we may just never be able to find enough data. But you can't just ignore them and still claim to have demonstrated that Smith could not have composed the Book of Mormon because he didn't know EModE.

Edited by Physics Guy

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28 minutes ago, Physics Guy said:

if their speech has been preserved accurately. 

Is this even possible?  I am thinking one would need multiple recordings of the same sermon to compare for accuracy.  

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Posted (edited)

Ideally, yeah. Maybe one could find other arguments in support of accuracy. Reporting grammatical errors, for example, would indicate that the reporter was not correcting the preacher's words. If the reporter simultaneously praised the preacher sincerely, then that would tend to rule out the possibility that the errors had been inserted by the reporter to mock the preacher. So it might be feasible to rule out Carmack's argument with this kind of data, by finding lots of reported EModE in old sermons, but not feasible to rule out the alternative hypothesis of overdone archaism, because if one found no EModE expressions in the reports of sermons then one couldn't tell whether the reporter had consciously or unconsciously corrected the preacher's bad King James grammar. So to support Carmack's argument might indeed need multiple corroborating accounts, which would be harder to find. Empirical evidence is often an unfair playing field that way, with decisive evidence one way being much harder to find than the other.

As I said, it's going to be hard to close this loophole. It really is a big and obvious loophole, though. As soon as you think at all seriously about someone faking the Book of Mormon in the 19th century, the possibility that they might mess up the dialect comes up right away. As soon as you think at all seriously about exactly how a dialect might get messed up, you realize it would be a matter of systematic errors through applying mistaken grammatical rules.

Closing the big loophole will be hard. It may well be impossible. If it is impossible, then that won't mean that there's proof that the Book of Mormon was composed in the 19th century. It will mean, though, that there is no proof on linguistic grounds that it wasn't.

Edited by Physics Guy

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On 3/25/2019 at 10:41 AM, champatsch said:

On this, I would urge you to bring influence to bear within your committees so that readers worldwide are able to obtain more accurate Book of Mormon translations than are currently offered. There are dozens of uncontroversial incorrect readings in the 1981 text that inevitably lead to incorrect translations: 1n0831, 1n1324, 1n1516, etc. The church really needs to go through two or three stages of updating the text, which fits fine with the recent glasnost and perestroika.

No, there's quantitative analysis in NOL in the archaic syntax section. I've done a lot of other quantitative analysis.

Sounds like you're interested in lexical matters and contextual language. I'm principally interested in grammatical and syntactic things, much less contextual language, which is the strongest evidence to consider in determining whether Joseph Smith had the implicit knowledge to produce the language. Nevertheless, I did work on all this material, so I know it, and therefore I know that your general statement above, about finding most of the examples in multiple different 19c publications, in effect dismisses many entries found in the online, third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. And it also goes against many things that I have researched. So you've found whereby = 'why' and depart (intr.) = 'divide' and but if = 'unless' and mar = 'stop', etc. in the 19c. All the lexical usage of the Book of Mormon persisted. Well, then you have dozens of things to submit to the OED so that they can update their entries.  Sarcasm aside, I'm well aware, knowing by experience, that the OED has incomplete entries and that it has many subentries that aren't quite accurate in terms of obsolescence. Over time they are updating their entries, adding usage found in recently developed corpora. But to say that you've looked at most of the examples of potential archaism in NOL and have found them in the 19c. I will need to know what you are referring to specifically so that I can begin to believe you. Why don't you give me three specific lexical items you mean so I can look them over.

Just thought I'd chime back in and say I've not abandoned this discussion, just quite busy with work and other things and trying to find time to read through everything I can. I did want clarification about something, though. I quoted you earlier in one of your papers saying the following:

Quote

. . . tight control can involve modern English vocabulary and syntax as well as Early Modern English (1500–1700), and even some late Middle English.

I don't think I saw a response to my request for clarification about whether or not you were referring here to the production of the Book of Mormon. If so, what does this suggest about the source for the Book of Mormon?

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On 4/11/2019 at 1:22 AM, Physics Guy said:

It would indeed be worth looking at sermons by uneducated preachers, if their speech has been preserved accurately. This was a good suggestion of yours, and Carmack seems to have recognized that it would be nice to do something along these lines; but he seems to think of it as an added luxury. He doesn't seem to realize that he really needs to close this loophole because until he does, he does not have a case against 19th century composition.

In most general 19th century corpuses copies of sermons by these popular preachers should be included. So it'd depend upon what corpus is being searched. Again while Google's corpus and search has a lot of issues, it does include these works. Your point about accuracy of transcripts is a good one. It's quite plausible that the grammar was improved slightly by editors.

The court transcripts I've brought up a few times are likely the best source of seeing how grammatical structures survived. As I mentioned other elements of EmoE survived well into the 19th century in pockets. It's just that there's not as much data as one would wish so words and spellings tend to be what gets focused on the most.

I'd probably look at close linguistic ethnographic studies of secluded regions in the early 20th century as well. Those are primarily unrelated to Joseph's region - frequently in the mountains of the Appalachians - but could be a nice way to see if EmoE grammar survived in such pockets. If it did then that's prima facie argument against Stanford's thesis. My guess is though that we won't find them. But of course I don't know for sure. 

2 hours ago, Dan McClellan said:

I don't think I saw a response to my request for clarification about whether or not you were referring here to the production of the Book of Mormon. If so, what does this suggest about the source for the Book of Mormon?

I can't speak for Stanford, but I think it doesn't tell us much since clearly some elements are 19th century as I believe Stanford also accepts. People have drawn up fanciful speculations on that, but that's all they are. By and large to me it's an interesting phenomena in the text that tells us little except that Joseph likely wasn't the sole author. I've mentioned in various places that for the fraud model claims of plagiarism were present from the time of Joseph Smith. (The purported Spaulding Manuscript as well as View of the Hebrews have both been popular at various times)

At best this suggests some much older text plagiarized for those skeptical of restoration truth claims. For those who accept the traditional account an obvious possibility is people with exposure to such language being involved in some unknown way with the translation. It's easy to come up with fanciful explanations along those lines although I'd not take them too seriously.

Edited by clarkgoble

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3 hours ago, Dan McClellan said:

Just thought I'd chime back in and say I've not abandoned this discussion, just quite busy with work and other things and trying to find time to read through everything I can. I did want clarification about something, though. I quoted you earlier in one of your papers saying the following:

I don't think I saw a response to my request for clarification about whether or not you were referring here to the production of the Book of Mormon. If so, what does this suggest about the source for the Book of Mormon?

What tight control means (the term is found in Skousen 1998 [JBMS]) is that God delivered the words of the text to Joseph Smith:

“the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him” (2n2724).

This agrees with what Joseph Smith said in Washington, DC in 1840: that God was the author of the text.

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, champatsch said:

What tight control means (the term is found in Skousen 1998 [JBMS]) is that God delivered the words of the text to Joseph Smith:

“the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him” (2n2724).

This agrees with what Joseph Smith said in Washington, DC in 1840: that God was the author of the text.

Of the Book of Mormon text that has been examined, what percentage of the grammarical syntax is Early Modern English?

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding

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20 hours ago, champatsch said:

What tight control means (the term is found in Skousen 1998 [JBMS]) is that God delivered the words of the text to Joseph Smith:

“the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him” (2n2724).

This agrees with what Joseph Smith said in Washington, DC in 1840: that God was the author of the text.

I appreciate the clarification, but isn't this kinda methodologically punting to just say whatever's going on with language spanning several centuries, including the Prophet's own day, God did it? That produces far more questions than it answers. Am I remembering correctly that you've also said somewhere that the process of producing the text may have slid in and out of tight control? I may have read that somewhere else, but I seem to recall that concept.

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6 hours ago, Dan McClellan said:

I appreciate the clarification, but isn't this kinda methodologically punting to just say whatever's going on with language spanning several centuries, including the Prophet's own day, God did it? That produces far more questions than it answers. Am I remembering correctly that you've also said somewhere that the process of producing the text may have slid in and out of tight control? I may have read that somewhere else, but I seem to recall that concept.

https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/on-doctrine-and-covenants-language-and-the-1833-plot-of-zion/

I think this is at least one place where Mr. Carmack says that evidence of archaic usage was evidence of tight control or evidence God was speaking.  Mr. Carmack also says here that the plot of Zion is evidence of the sliding in and out of tight control.

Does Mr. Carmack believe that God speaks in EmodE or at least uses archaic structures to show it is He that is speaking?

Edited by Exiled

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3 hours ago, Exiled said:

Does Mr. Carmack believe that God speaks in EModE or at least uses archaic structures to show it is He that is speaking?

No.

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3 hours ago, Exiled said:

Mr. Carmack also says here that the plot of Zion is evidence of the sliding in and out of tight control.

The Plot of Zion is a text that is short and whose revelatory production is uncertain. As such, we are unable to reach firm conclusions about tight control.

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, champatsch said:

No.

How do you explain this passage from your Plot of Zion paper:

"To a more limited degree, this type of analysis can be carried out in relation to Doctrine and Covenants language. Especially important to consider in this regard are the early revelations, given before or concurrently with the Book of Mormon dictation. Forms and syntactic structures that were obsolete, archaic, or rare in early 19th-century English point to a tightly controlled revelatory process, especially because receipt of the early revelations matched that of the Book of Mormon. The majority of the language, however, encompasses usage that persisted for centuries."

........

It seems you are saying here that archaic forms are evidence of God tightly controlling what was said, meaning that the archaic words were God's words, right? (of course, according to Joseph Smith, God supposedly speaks the pure Adamic language, whatever that is) Yet, here God speaks to Joseph Smith in EmodE or other archaic forms? Perhaps God goes between Adamic and EmodE?

Edited by Exiled

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3 hours ago, Exiled said:

It seems you are saying here that archaic forms are evidence of God tightly controlling what was said, meaning that the archaic words were God's words, right? (of course, according to Joseph Smith, God supposedly speaks the pure Adamic language, whatever that is) Yet, here God speaks to Joseph Smith in EmodE or other archaic forms? Perhaps God goes between Adamic and EmodE?

I think his argument is that since EmodE isn't in Joseph's environment (plausible, although not yet fully demonstrated) it is evidence Joseph's getting it from somewhere else. If one accepts it's revelation then that'd be evidence for tight control. Although  as I've mentioned one could easily reconcile this with other models. Once you have EmodE in the Book of Mormon in unique ways it's quite plausible it'd affect his language elsewhere.

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On 4/15/2019 at 11:15 AM, clarkgoble said:

I think his argument is that since EmodE isn't in Joseph's environment (plausible, although not yet fully demonstrated) it is evidence Joseph's getting it from somewhere else. If one accepts it's revelation then that'd be evidence for tight control. Although  as I've mentioned one could easily reconcile this with other models. Once you have EmodE in the Book of Mormon in unique ways it's quite plausible it'd affect his language elsewhere.

But supposedly God is communicating in these archaic forms. So, how is God not speaking archaic English, whether EmodE or some other form of early english? Obviously God knows all languages, but has some sort of predilection for the Elizabethian era?

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On 4/13/2019 at 9:56 AM, champatsch said:

What tight control means (the term is found in Skousen 1998 [JBMS]) is that God delivered the words of the text to Joseph Smith:

“the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him” (2n2724).

This agrees with what Joseph Smith said in Washington, DC in 1840: that God was the author of the text.

If God is the author then where does that leave Nephi, Mormon and Moroni?  If God or one of his minions is translator then where does that leave Joseph?  Either way this seems to suggest either Joseph didn't know what was going on, or God has a weird concept of relatable English.  It also brings in the question of historicity.  If it's not an ancient, as in 400CE and before author, then we have little reason to treat it as telling us a story from those people.  

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14 hours ago, Exiled said:

But supposedly God is communicating in these archaic forms. So, how is God not speaking archaic English, whether EmodE or some other form of early english? Obviously God knows all languages, but has some sort of predilection for the Elizabethian era?

That presupposes only God is communicating. While it's done by the power of God, it doesn't follow that God the Father or Jesus are necessarily dictating the text.

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4 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

That presupposes only God is communicating. While it's done by the power of God, it doesn't follow that God the Father or Jesus are necessarily dictating the text.

Right, but the D&C and Plot of Zion too? Is this person from Elizabethian times also giving revelations outside of the book of mormon? Also, I thought we all spoke the pure Adamic language when we go on to the nether worlds. Why then is this person speaking EmodE, when it raises the chances of confusion? Why couldn't God cause the gospel to be preached in JS's tongue as the bofm says will be done (I believe in Alma 13?)

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Posted (edited)

It seems to me the question isn't what God could do but what God did do. As soon as we start making decisions based upon what we'd do if we were God as indicative of whether something was divine or not I think we're down a problematic line of logic. (IMO). Without knowing the constraints God was under how do we answer this? 

Further by the time of the Plat of Zion Joseph had been exposed to the language of the Book of Mormon perhaps having picked up some of the grammar and idioms. This (IMO) makes the Plat of Zion less indicative of much since it's fairly likely the Book of Mormon language affected its language much as the KJV affected peoples language. I'd need to relook at Stanford's paper on that to see if there were any unique structures there not in the Book of Mormon (or easily derivable from them given a broader category).

Edited by clarkgoble
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