Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Linguistic Ties Between Old and New Worlds?

Brian D. Stubbs, one of the few linguists working with Uto-Aztecan languages (covering the US Southwest down to southern Mexico), wrote a controversial article, "Looking Over vs. Overlooking Native American Languages: Let's Void the Void," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1996, pp. 1-49 (a PDF version is also available and easier to read - you may need to download it to your hard drive and then open it). It goes against mainstream views of many linguists, including some LDS linguists, I understand, but opens an issue that may not have been previously explored in any depth. Stubbs makes systematic comparisons of ancient Hebrew words and forms to those of Uto-Aztecan languages. He is among a small handful of people who know both Semitic languages and Uto-Aztecan languages.

I hope there will be additional people who study both Semitic and Native American languages with the credentials to fairly explore the possibilities raised here.

In any case, I think it's important to understand more about how languages change with time and what remnants of Semitic languages one might hope to find in the Americas. As with the confusion over DNA studies and the Book of Mormon, a reasonable approach to linguistic evidence requires an understanding of what the Book of Mormon does and does not say about other peoples in the land, and how small the at-least-part-Semitic populations might have been compared to the all the other groups here.

2 comments:

brian d stubbs said...

Jeff, I have periodically noticed your favorable treatment of my work and I appreciate that. I did not intend for it to get out prematurely, for when I submitted the initial article, I did not know that FARMS put their journal online, then came the video that I did not know would appear on the www. But that's all ok. Both are only the tip of an iceberg, the first 5 to 8%, perhaps. I occasionally glance at the banter and bicker, most of which is ineffectual, but I mainly simply keep going on the research. It involves so much that it is slow and tedious, but hopefully will appear in published form soon (as a book). Email me at roadsscholarbds@gmail.com. Let's keep in touch.

of brian d stubbs said...

Jeff, I'm curious who the LDS linguists are that doubt my work. All in the BYU linguistics department that have looked at it, as far as I'm aware, find it convincing. Even non-LDS linguists to whom I show the full array of data are usually quite overwhelmed, having little or nothing to say against it. brian d stubbs