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Evidence of "others"


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I noticed this in family scripture reading last night.

Mosiah 9:1 I, Zeniff, having been taught in all the language of the Nephites, and having had a knowledge of the land of Nephi, or of the land of our fathers

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Thanks, Brant. I knew I could get a good answer. I appreciate your post.

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Ultimately, I think you are looking at the evidence of others, but not quite in the way you were thinking. Mosiah I takes a small group of Nephites (speaking the "language of the Nephites") to Zarahemla, where they encounter a people speaking a different language (they had "lost" their language, which means they were speaking something else). When Zeniff is one going back to the land of Nephi, it is because he speaks the language of that region, as opposed to the language of Zarahemla.

Now, I happen to believe that the "language of the Nephites" had already been changed by others. However, as an argument for that proposition, Zeniff returning only tells us that he is returning to the original Nephite language. Of course, the next question would be what is means for the Zarahemlaites to have lost their language. In normal linguistic change, 400 years is not enough to devolve into mutually unintelligible dialects. The only linguistic explanation is the presence of other languages that would accelerate that process.

That is excellent! In my mind that is pretty good internal evidence that the Nephites were not living in a linguistic vacuum and therefore were living amoung other peoples. Is there a book, magazine article or other scholarly apparatus - preferably non-LDS, non-Book of Mormon related - in which it says something along the order of your statement high-lited above. I'd like to study that a little bit.

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Is there a book, magazine article or other scholarly apparatus - preferably non-LDS, non-Book of Mormon related - in which it says something along the order of your statement high-lited above. I'd like to study that a little bit.

You should find some information that is useful in this Wikipedia article. Lower in the article it discusses a rate of change in important vocabulary ranging from 4 to 20% per millennium. Obviously, even at the highest rate, you are still intelligible after a thousand years, and we only have 400 between the departure of the Lehites and Mulekites from the Old World and their meeting in the new.

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You should find some information that is useful in this Wikipedia article. Lower in the article it discusses a rate of change in important vocabulary ranging from 4 to 20% per millennium. Obviously, even at the highest rate, you are still intelligible after a thousand years, and we only have 400 between the departure of the Lehites and Mulekites from the Old World and their meeting in the new.

Can't an external stimulus, such as the assimilation of/into another culture with its own language, significantly increase the rate of change?

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Great stuff!!

My next project was going to be combing the BOM to find exactly this- so you have made my job a lot easier!

Thanks Brant!

I knew it had to be there somewhere!

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Can't an external stimulus, such as the assimilation of/into another culture with its own language, significantly increase the rate of change?

Contact with other languages certainly accelerates the rate of change. In the case of a small group of people coming into contact with a larger, established, group, the historical tendency is to retain the more widely spoken language, even if the language of the few is the language of the government/scholars--see Norman England and the fact that I am writing in English, not French.

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Couldn't the verse mean that he was taught all the intricacies and nuances of the Nephite lanuage?

I'm not how that would change it's significance

And how could we check that translation? I think we get to decide the interpretation, and we just did.

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Couldn't the verse mean that he was taught all the intricacies and nuances of the Nephite lanuage?

Do you mean that he was a native speaker, but learned more about it? I suppose it is remotely possible, but it would be a remarkable line of study in the ancient world. I am not aware of any ancient interest in one's own language, save for training in specific linguistic arts. The context makes it clear that the reason for the study was to be able to converse with the people in the land of Nephi. He had come from there and therefore spoke the language.

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