Sunday, May 1, 2016

An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part VI

Continuing from the last five posts in which we outlined all the problems Mesoamericanists and other theorists like to attribute to the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon in an attempt to change the actual words or phrases or meaning of Joseph Smith’s translation.
Below, however, we will show how the Book of Mormon was translated and why all these arguments over the past five posts are totally and completely invalid when it comes to evaluating Joseph Smith’s translation. The problem is in the fact that all these theorists miss the point of the Joseph Smith translation process, as well as why the Hebrew and reformed Egyptian have little effect on the actual translation that we have before us today.
    First of all, let us start this post out by saying that in the past five articles, we have taken an inordinate amount of time and even covered redundant arguments about the problems theorists see in the translation process. And while any normal translation, i.e., that is translating the Popol Vuh or any other ancient text found in Mesoamerica, or anywhere else for that matter, other than the Book of Mormon, is going to have many or perhaps even all of the suggestive problems outlined in the past five articles, they are all missing and of no concern when determining the Joseph Smith translation. We apologize in the beginning for the lengthy effort to make our point here in this series, however, the very tenacity that theorists cling to this idea of problems with words and meanings in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon cause us to take all this time and explain each and every point so that the information covered in this final post on the subject will be that much more understandable and answer all the kinds of questions that these theorists raise in their attempt to discredit the actual meaning and try to substitute another, such as claiming Mormon really meant a tapir or deer when he wrote and Joseph Smith translated “horse.”
    Nor is it that the answer is that complicated or unknown. We have written about this many times in different ways; however, since the idea of “clouding the issue” with other ideas, words, and meanings that theorists use to deflect the actual wordage of the scriptural record in these areas, is an ongoing process without any credibility check, with article after article in books, periodicals and classroom discussion at places like BYU and elsewhere when the Book of Mormon is discussed, it seemed worthwhile for us to take this time with the issue at hand to make sure that all arguments and comments on the subject are dealt with, corrected, and fully understood.
    In order to do this, let’s address some of the information surrounding the translation of the Book of Mormon.
The characters of reformed Egyptian, most likely a form of shorthand developed around Lehi’s time that he learned, probably as part of his business connection in or with Egypt
    First, we are told around 600 B.C. that the Book of Mormon was written in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians” (1 Nephi 1:2);
    Second, that this reformed Egyptian was the language used after 1000 years, as Moroni stated around 400 A.D.: “we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech” (Mormon 9:32);
    Third, that “the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof” (Mormon 9:34);
    Fourth, and that "such means" was Joseph Smith, who was charged by the angel Moroni, to translate the book from the ancient language in which it was written.
Joseph received the plates in September 1827 and the following spring, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, began translating them in earnest, with Emma and his friend Martin Harris serving as his main scribes. The resulting English transcription, known as the Book of Lehi and referred to by Joseph Smith as written on 116 pages, was subsequently lost or stolen. As a result, Joseph Smith was rebuked by the Lord and lost the ability to translate for a short time (Joseph Smith History, 1838–ca. 1841, 8–11 (draft 2);  Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844, vol. 1 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers).
    Joseph began translating again in 1829, and almost all of the present Book of Mormon text was translated during a three-month period between April and June of that year. His chief scribe during these months was Oliver Cowdery, a schoolteacher from Vermont who learned about the Book of Mormon while boarding with Joseph’s parents in Palmyra.
    Now, in conveying how this was done, it is very important that we understand, Joseph Smith was called to render into his own language an entire volume of scripture amounting to more than 500 printed pages, containing doctrine that would deepen and expand the theological understanding of millions of people.
    Into his own language. In order to do this, God prepared additional, practical help in the form of physical instruments for Joseph Smith to use. Joseph Smith and his scribes wrote of two instruments used in translating the Book of Mormon. According to witnesses of the translation, when Joseph looked into the instruments, the words of scripture appeared in English. One instrument, called in the Book of Mormon the “interpreters,” is better known to Latter-day Saints today as the “Urim and Thummim.” Joseph found the interpreters buried in the hill with the plates. Those who saw the interpreters described them as a clear pair of stones bound together with a metal rim. The Book of Mormon referred to this instrument, together with its breastplate, as a device “kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord” and “handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages."
The other instrument, which Joseph Smith discovered in the ground years before he retrieved the gold plates, was a small oval stone, or “seer stone.” As a young man during the 1820s, Joseph Smith, like others in his day, used a seer stone to look for lost objects and buried treasure. As Joseph grew to understand his prophetic calling, he learned that he could use this stone for the higher purpose of translating scripture.
    Joseph often translated with the single seer stone rather than the two stones bound together to form the interpreters. These two instruments—the interpreters and the seer stone—were apparently interchangeable and worked in much the same way such that, in the course of time, Joseph Smith and his associates often used the term “Urim and Thummim” to refer to the single stone as well as the interpreters. In ancient times, Israelite priests used the Urim and Thummim to assist in receiving divine communications.
    In fact, there are numerous witnesses to Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon, and all essentially tell the same story: Joseph put a stone (often called a seer stone) in a hat, then burying his face in the darkened hat words appeared on the stone which he dictated to the scribe. The gold plates were either always covered by a cloth, where no one including Joseph could see them or they were not even in the room at the time Joseph was translating. The seer stone Joseph used was the same stone he found when digging a well with his brother Hyrum on Willard and Mason Chase's property years earlier.
Several comments exist in scripture of the The Urim and Thummim along with the above one interpretation. Though it is mentioned in the Old Testament and used as a major instrument in Hebrew revelation, no firm description seems to exist with commentators differing on the nature of the instrument. Several ancient sources state that the instrument involved stones that lit up or were divinely illumined. Latter-day Saints later understood the term “Urim and Thummim” to refer exclusively to the interpreters. Joseph Smith and others, however, seem to have understood the term more as a descriptive category of instruments for obtaining divine revelations and less as the name of a specific instrument.
The Urim and Thummim were mysterious objects used by the ancient Israelites to determine God’s will, and although they are mentioned several times in the Bible, Scripture does not give a description of what they were or what they looked like. In Hebrew, Urim means "lights" and Thummim means "perfection." These objects were used to illuminate the people about God’s flawless will
(See the next and last post in this series, “An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part VII,” to see how the different between normal translation and the translation conducted by Joseph Smith eliminated all the problems theorists claim caused errors in the scriptural record)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part V

Continuing from the last four posts on the difference between normal translation and that accomplished by Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon—the difference, though seemingly lost on the theorists today make all the difference in the world in understanding the translation method and accuracy of the Book of Mormon. 
    Continuing with the article we have been taking this information from to show how Mesoamericanists' use normal translation problems and try to apply them toward the Joseph Smith translation of the Book of Mormon. In this post, we will finalize the normal translation process, and in the following post, show how the Joseph Smith translation is different and does not fall into the problems associated with these normal translation difficulties.
    As an example, in normal translation, such things as “chariot,” as used in the scriptural record could run into difficulties since the Welsh cognate to the English chariot, signifies, among other things, a “dray”–which Webster’s defines as “any of several wheelless land vehicles used for haulage,” and for which it gives as a synonym nothing less than travois; dray is obviously cognate with the verb to drag–or a “sledge” (which term is, itself, related to words like sleigh and sled–which also plainly denote wheelless vehicles).
(Interjectory note: In the 1828 dictionary, the word “dray” meant: “A low cart or carriage on wheels, drawn by a horse,” or “a sled.” In modern definitions, “dray” means a truck or car or vehicle used to haul goods, especially a strong cart or wagon without sides.” Neither of these two definitions, or the word “dray” relates to the scriptural record in the Book of Mormon, which strongly suggests the carrying of people).
Horses pulling drays, which is any cart, typically flatbed, meant to haul material, equipment, food, etc. There is no connection between a dray and a chariot
    Continuing with the article: The English word “chariot” comes from Latin carrus, car, and is etymologically related to the verb to carry. The primary definition for chariot seems to be a device to carry some sort of load. We should not automatically assume that the Nephites understood chariots as wheeled war machines. Because no Book of Mormon verse says or suggests that chariots are mounted, dismounted, or that they carried people or were ridden (although this could be inferred from a twenty-first century view), we cannot say for certain what a Book of Mormon “chariot” means.
(Interjectory note: The verb transitive is “to convey in a chariot.” And since the scriptural record shows that a chariot is not used singularly, but in conjunction with horses, as in “that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi” (Alma 18:9), also “preparing his horses and his chariots” (Alma 18:10); also, “ready the horses and the chariots for the king and his servants” (Alma 18:12); also “caused that his servants should make ready his horses and his chariots” (Alma 20:6). It would seem obvious that these chariots conveyed people, such as king Lamoni and Ammon)
    Continuing: Native American kings, for example, were often carried into war or to ceremonial events on litters or palanquins. These were sedans carried on the shoulders of other men and certainly fits the Hebrew definition of a “chariot.” The Book of Mormon, it must also be noted, never mentions horses “pulling” chariots.
(Interjectory note: The 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, which we have used for several years now to better understand and define the words that would have been known to Joseph Smith in his 1829 translation of the plates, gives the following meaning to the word “chariot.” As for the translation indicating chariot is from the word “car,” the 1828 dictionary defines “car” as: “A car or vehicle used formerly in war, drawn by two or more horses, and conveying two men each. These vehicles were sometimes armed with hooks or sythes,” which is a clear description of a chariot. The 1828 dictionary also gives “A small vehicle moved on wheels, usually drawn by one horse,” as the meaning for the word “car,” and also “Any vehicle of dignity or splendor; a chariot of war or of triumph.”)
Horse-drawn sled
    Continuing: But if Nephite chariots were not wheeled (and it’s possible that they were), why are chariots mentioned in conjunction with Nephite “horses”? First, Nephite chariots (wheeled or not) may have been pulled by deer or tapirs (which may have been included in the Nephite term “horse”).
(Interjectory note: There is no reason to even suggest that these Nephite or Lamanite chariots were pulled by anything other than horses. As shown above in several scriptures, the words “horse” and “chariot” are used together. To try and claim “horse” didn’t mean “horse” is to throw a deleterious or adverse image upon the entire Joseph Smith translation process, which we will cover in the next post)
    Continuing: Several ancient Eastern and Near Eastern pieces of art and petroglyphs depict chariots drawn by deer. Early Hindus had chariots pulled by deer. We find deer-pulling chariots in Asian art. The Greek goddess Artemis supposedly rode a chariot pulled by deer.
(Interjectory note: In almost every study where deer are associated with chariots, wagons or carts, it is in connection with gods and goddesses, nymphs, leprechauns, and the like, or as a symbol of something, like in the painting Triumph of Time, showing Father Time based on an allegorical poem, 14th century. Very seldom in art is there a realistic use of a deer pulling a cart of any kind. The images found had to do with myths and legends, of gods and goddesses, of poems and verse. No doubt, such can be found somewhere, but the suggestion is simply that it would have been extremely rare, if at all, since the hundreds found show only a connection with deity).
    Continuing: Perhaps deer or tapirs pulled wheelless chariots. We know, for instance, that the American Indian travois (a kind of sled) was pulled, not only by horses, but also by dogs.
(Interjectory note: Sled dogs were and are used in the far north because of the snow conditions. Horses and just about any other type of animals would sink into the snow drifts, making movement difficult and slow. Dogs, on the other hand, because of their light weight and soft paws actually can walk or run on the snow’s surface—they are the only animal that can do so. Not until the invention of the snowmobile in the 1950s and 1960s did away with commercial use of dogsleds, like in delivering mail, but the Eskimos or Inuits still use them to great advantage. It never had anything to do with language or horses, or anything else other than the dog’s ability to travel over snow economically and with good speed).
Continuing: Maybe King Lamoni used a deer or tapir-drawn travois to cart his supplies while traveling. The mass Nephite movement to Zarahemla certainly suggests that chariots were used to carry supplies rather than soldiers.
(Interjectory note: When and how chariots were used other than the few references we have is unknown to us. What use in war, if any, they had is also unknown. To speculate on it serves no purpose).
    Continuing: “It’s also possible that Nephite “horses”–at least when associated with chariots–were among the provisions that King Lamoni needed during his travels (we know that horses were part of the provisions which the Nephites reserved for themselves when fighting the Gadianton Robbers [3 Nephi 4:4]). Perhaps “preparing” the horses and chariots would be like “preparing the chicken and backpack.” To modern ears this doesn’t suggest that the chicken will carry the backpack but rather than a chicken meal will be prepared to go in the backpack. If Book of Mormon horses were eaten, they may have been one of the provisions loaded on a “chariot” and carried or dragged by men.
(Interjectory note: This is both silly and uneducated dribble! Can it be possible that the Lamanites groomed and prepared their horses and chariots so they could eat the horses on the way? King Laman and Ammon were not going to the other end of the world—they were traveling into the next land. While they might have taken food for the journey, it seems rather ridiculous to suggest they took “horses” to tide them over for their evening meal).
(See the next post, “An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part VI,” for an understanding between normal translation and that type of translation accomplished by Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon—the difference, though seemingly lost on the theorists make all the difference in the world in understanding the translation and accuracy of the Book of Mormon)

Friday, April 29, 2016

An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part IV

Continuing from the last three posts on the difference between normal translation and that accomplished by Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon—the difference, though seemingly lost on the theorists make all the difference in the world in understanding the translation method and accuracy of the Book of Mormon.
     According to the article: While we know that, in at least a few instances, deer were ridden, we do not have the same information concerning tapirs, other than accounts of children riding tapirs. The problem, once again, is of recontextualization. The Book of Mormon never says that Nephite “horses” were ridden. Book of Mormon horses are never used to hasten a journey and they are never used in a combat narrative.
(Interjectory note: “Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi; for there had been a great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land.” (Alma 18:10). And again,And Ammon said unto him: No one hath told me, save it be God; and he said unto me -- Go and deliver thy brethren, for they are in prison in the land of Middoni. Now when Lamoni had heard this he caused that his servants should make ready his horses and his chariots. And he said unto Ammon: Come, I will go with thee down to the land of Middoni, and there I will plead with the king that he will cast thy brethren out of prison. And it came to pass that as Ammon and Lamoni were journeying thither, they met the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land” (Alma 20:5-8). 
    It would seem from the foregoing that in this case, horses were used by Lamoni and Ammon to hasten their journey to Middoni)
    Continuing with the article: This is most curious and requires an explanation for those critics who claim that Joseph Smith created a fictional Book of Mormon. According to what was known during Joseph’s day, the Indians (and all Westerners) rode horses. Nineteenth-century horses were also used to plow fields, but there is no mention of this in the Book of Mormon. If Joseph had created a fictional story, why doesn’t the Book of Mormon reflect horses in ways that were familiar to nineteenth-century Americans?
(Interjectory note: Romans, Greeks, and those of that era seldom rode horses. Field commanders did, simply because it made them more mobile to move among their troops, issue orders, and get a better picture of the order of battle--plus, it made them visible to their troops and showed they were among them on the battle field. On the other hand, Romans and Greeks had chariots and these were used both in battle, as a mounted cavalry was centuries later, and for transportation. No Roman General walked into Rome after a period of time in the field or being away from Rome—they rode chariots in great triumph.
Continuing: Mesoamerica was a maize-based agriculture. Real “horses” in such an agricultural society would not have been very helpful in food production and may actually have been an economic drain.
    Maize based agriculture produces four times as much food as did the wheat and oat agriculture of Europe. Large cities could be easily supported on a much smaller agricultural land base, where human porters were far more efficient than a horse would be. Instead, we read in the Book of Mormon that the “people of Nephi did till the land, and raise all manner of grain, and of fruit, and flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses” (Enos 1:21). Later we read that while the Nephites fought with the Gadianton robbers, they reserved provisions for themselves. What kinds of provisions?…horses and cattle, and flocks of every kind, that they might subsist for the space of seven years, in the which time they did hope to destroy the robbers from off the face of the land…. (3 Ne. 4:4).
(Interjectory note: In few advanced societies is horsemeat preferential over cattle, sheep and goats for meat. In fact, horses are usually reserved for the last to be butchered since they have other, valuable purposes)
    Continuing: After defeating the Gadianton Robbers the Nephites returned to their homes–every man with his “flocks and his herds, his horses and his cattle” (3 Ne. 6:1). It seems that Book of Mormon horses may have been considered to be something like cattle. As noted above, tapirs were frequently eaten in ancient America. In the ancient Near East early horses were too small to ride and so they were sometimes used to pull things such as chariots. By about 1000 B.C., the Egyptians had bred horses large enough for soldiers to ride bareback. With this adaptation, the war chariot began to die out.
(Interjectory note: Alexander the Great [356-323 B.C.] in the battle of Gaugamela, according to the Greek historian Arrian in the second century A.D., was one of the largest and greatest chariot battles undertaken. Darius had plowed and level the battle field with the intention of using his famed scythed war chariots [3-foot long blades affixed on each side to the wheel hubs that spun around cutting into the enemy as the vehicle moved forward]; however, Alexander outsmarted him by marching sideways to the line with the Persians following until they were nearly out of the plowed field. When the Persians finally charged Alexander’s position with their chariots, the Greeks threw lances at the horses, killing them—or they stood apart and let the chariots ride on through with the rear guard overpowering them. These famed war chariots were famous in the Greco-Persian Wars (457-458 B.C.) and on into Alexander’s time a century later)
Scythed chariot wheels [red arrow] mounted on large and light Persian war chariots designed to plow through infantry lines.  General Xenophon saw them in use during the battle of Cunaxa north of Babylon in 401 B.C. in the revolt by Cyrus 700 years after the writer of this quoted article claims they were no longer in use
     Continuing: Large horses are ridden; small horses were used to pull things. Ancient New World horses would have been small horses. A few Book of Mormon verses seem to indicate that New World “horses” may also have been used to pull chariots. In Alma, for instance, we read that Ammon was “preparing” King Lamoni’s “horses and chariots” to conduct him to the land of Nephi (Alma 18:9-12). Later, when Ammon wanted to free his brethren from a neighboring city’s prison, King Lamoni volunteered to go with Ammon and asked that his servants “make ready his horses and chariots” (Alma 20:6). Finally, when the Nephites went to war with the Gadianton robbers they took “horses, and their chariots, and their cattle, and all their flocks, and their herds, and their grain, and all their substance” and gathered to Zarahemla to defend themselves.
(Interjectory note: For the sake of accuracy, they gathered “the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla, and the land which was between the land Zarahemla and the land Bountiful, yea, to the line which was between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation” (3 Nephi 3:23). And there were not just a few, “and did march forth by thousands and by tens of thousands, until they had all gone forth to the place which had been appointed that they should gather themselves together, to defend themselves against their enemies” (3 Nephi 3:22)
    Continuing: The initial “plain” reading of these verses seems to suggest that horse-drawn chariots transported the Nephites to various destinations. It should be noted, however, that chariots are mentioned in only a few verses, and in all but one instance, they belonged to a single king–Lamoni. In the other instance it seems that chariots are used to convey Nephites or their property in their trek to Zarahemla, more in the manner of carts than war chariots.
(Interjectory note: How they used these horses and chariots is not the point. The issue at hand is that the Nephites had horses that pulled chariots. It seems likely that when the Nephites were fleeing from the Lamanites shortly before Cumorah and those who could not keep up were overrun and killed by the Lamanites, that the Nephites would have employed what ever manner of fast movement available to them, suggesting that those who could not keep up were on foot and overtaken and killed as they tried to escape the lamanites)
    Continuing: Book of Mormon chariots, like horses, are never mentioned in a combat narrative.
(Interjectory note: Mormon’s book of his own life and the many battles covering nearly 70 years, is full of the Nephites fleeing the Lamanite hordes, yet no details are given. Just because it is not mentioned, when chariots were known to both the Lamanites and Nephites, does not mean that chariots were not in use. In Mormon’s abridgement, of which he said he could not write even one thousandth of what was available to him, it would not be unusual that he neglected to indicated chariots were employed during the Nephite wars with the Lamanites since they both had such vehicles pulled by horses and their use would seem to be common sense)
(See the next post, “An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part V,” for a better understanding between normal translation and that accomplished by Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon—the difference, though seemingly lost on the theorists make all the difference in the world in understanding the translation and accuracy of the Book of Mormon)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part III

Continuing from the last two posts on the difference between normal translation and that accomplished by Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon—the difference, though seemingly lost on the theorists make all the difference in the world in understanding the translation method and accuracy of the Book of Mormon), including the type of normal translation and its problems one would expect that are erroneously applied by theorists to the Book of Mormon.
    Also continuing with, if we find such loan-shifting in verifiable New World sources when the Native Americans and the Spaniards encountered unfamiliar animals, why do some critics think it is impossible that the Nephites would have acted any differently when they encountered unfamiliar items or animals, or had to identify different items with a limited written vocabulary?
(Interjectory note: It is not that the animals are familiar (to us), they were not familiar to those using the loan-shifting of words. The Maya had never seen a horse or goat before (obviously, why the Book of Mormon lands were not in Mesoamerica), and tapirs were not familiar to the Spanish invaders, nor was the hippopotamus  known to the Greeks who called it a “river horse.” So what animals were not known to the indigenous Peruvians that they called by other names? Since the article is centered in Mesoamerica, we do not have an answer to that)
    Perhaps the reformed Egyptian word for “horse” was expanded to include other animals that were in some way horse-like. The most likely animals to have been included in the expanded definition of the Book of Mormon “horse” are the deer and the tapir.
The tapir, horse, and two species of deer. What makes these theorists think that the Nephites didn’t know what a deer and horse was. And since tapirs were indigenous to Central and South America, why they wouldn’t have known about the tapir. The point is these theorists arguments often fall short when they try to change the wordage of the scriptural record
As already noted, some of the Aztecs called the Spanish horse “deer.” Likewise, in the Quiche languages of highland Guatemala we have expressions like keh, which means both deer and horse, and the cognitive keheh, which means mount or ride. Early Native Americans had no problem expanding their definition of “deer” to include horses, so why couldn’t the Nephites expand their definition of “horse” to include deer if the American genus of deer–in some ways–acted like horses?
Drawing of 600 B.C. etchings in Israel and Syria showing (left), gazelle, (center) deer, (right) goat from Keel’s book
(Interjectory note: From Israel to Syria in the 600 B.C. period, according to Othmar Keel (The Song of Songs: A Continental Commentary, Fortress, 1994, pp92-93), the deer, gazelle, horse, and goat are all shown on coins and scaraboid. Now if these were known in Israel at the time of Lehi, then the Nephites would have known their names and they would have appeared on the plates in whatever form they could write in reformed Egyptian. To say the Egyptian was so limited that normal animals names known in Jerusalem were not writable is ridiculous—the Nephites could write cureloms and cumoms—why would those names be writable in reformed Egyptian and not animals known to both the Jews and Egyptians?)
    An early pre-Spanish incense burner discovered in Guatemala shows a man riding on the back of a deer, and a stone monument dating to 700 A.D. shows a woman riding a deer. Until recently many people in Siberia rode on the backs of deer. In such cases the deer served as “horses.”
(Interjectory note: While theorists try very hard to “stack the deck” in favor of their translation problems, the point is that the Maya had never seen a horse before; however, the Nephites knew what horses were, had them in conjunction with their chariots as previous discussed, and would not have used words to make one sound like the other—again, we need to be reminded that while the Maya were merely communicating among themselves, the Nephite recorders of the scriptural record knew they were writing to a future people and it seems highly unlikely they would have done so in such a sloppy manner. Nor, at this point is the idea that Reformed Egyptian was a narrow language that did not leave room for words that they already knew as has been suggested. It might also be pointed out that horses and chariots go together. Under no circumstances do deer and chariots go together)
    But didn’t the Nephites know real “deer” from their Old World experiences? Possibly. While “deer” are never mentioned in the Book of Mormon–not even in the Old World setting where the Lehites frequently hunted during their travels through the Arabian Peninsula–it seems reasonable to assume that the Lehites were familiar with Old World deer before coming to the New World.
(Interjectory note: See comment above and image of deer and gazelle in Israel 600 B.C.)
    Why, then, would the Nephites use the term “horse” for “deer”? Why didn’t they simply use the Hebrew word for “deer”? As previously noted, the Hebrew words for “deer” included several non-deer animals such as “ram,” “ibex,” and “mountain goat.”
LtoR: Deer; Gazelle; Hartebeest
    The Lehites may also have associated the Hebrew term “deer” with “gazelle” or “hartebeest.” The Hebrew-speaking Lehites wouldn’t have limited the label “deer” to exclusively one animal, nor would they have limited the Hebrew words for “horse” exclusively to horses.
(Interjectory note: The Hebrew “ayyal” means deer [Strong lists it as: “Ayal” meaning stag, hart (male deer), and “Ayala” means doe, gazelle, hind, all of the deer family], and is used as such in “the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck” (Deuteronomy 14:5) “of it, as of the gazelle and the deer”; “may eat of the gazelle and the deer” (Deuteronomy 12:15); “as a gazelle or a deer is eaten” (Deuteronomy 12:22)’ “as a gazelle or a deer”(Deuteronomy 15:22); “As the deer pants” (Psalm 42:1); “will leap like a deer, and the tongue (Isaiah 35:6); “have become like deer that have found (Lamentations 1:6). In all of the above, plus 1 Kings 4:23; Songs 2:9, 17; 8:14; the King James Version translate the word to “hart,” which is a “white red deer stag” or deer.)
    While the Lehites would have had a Hebrew word for deer, the question is whether the Nephites had a written reformed Egyptian word for deer. Reformed Egyptian was likely a combination of Hebrew language written in modified-Egyptian characters.
(Interjectory note: The above is nothing more than an assumption without any type of proof. We do not know what reformed Egyptian was, how it was structured, used, read or written).
    The number of reformed Egyptian characters may have been rather small as evidenced by the limited vocabulary we find in the Book of Mormon. It is possible, like the Book of Mormon terms “river” and “sea,” that other reformed Egyptian characters were expanded to describe multiple items. Dr. William Hamblin explains that “deer” were likely extinct in Egypt long before Lehi’s day and that there may not have been an Egyptian word for deer at the time of Nephi. But even if an Egyptian word for “deer” was known to the Lehites, this does not mean that such a word was available in the limited vocabulary of reformed Egyptian. In the absence of a reformed Egyptian word for deer Nephi would have chosen some other word that represented a characteristic of deer or a way they interacted with people.  
(Interjectory note: While these scholars attempt to make a case for a limited vocabulary for reformed Egyptian, we have no reason to assume this. The fact that a limited vocabulary of the Book of Mormon is used could simply be what Nephi described the writing to be: “For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3). It should also be noted that academicians, professors, scholars, etc., do not speak in plainness nor simplicity).
    The terms for “horse,” which had already been expanded in Hebrew to refer to “horseman” (or riders) as well as leaping animals (or even cranes), could easily be expanded to include New World “deer.” As noted in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ancient Near Eastern cultures, such as the Hebrews and Arabs, had “looseness of nomenclature” when it came to categorizing animals. The Nephites would have had no problem expanding the definition of “horse” to include New World animals that may have behaved in a similar fashion or were used in a similar way.
There is no similarity between a horse and a deer
(Interjectory note: When one is around deer (which are wild) and horses (which are domesticated after “broken”), drawing a conclusion that they behave in the same or similar fashion simply is not a comment any horseman, farmer, cowboy, or rodeo rider would ever make. There is simply nothing similar in these two species other than they both have four legs).
(See the next post, “An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part IV,” for a better understanding between normal translation and that accomplished by Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon—the difference, though seemingly lost on the theorists make all the difference in the world in understanding the translation and accuracy of the Book of Mormon)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part II

Continuing from the last post on the difference between normal translation and that accomplished by Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon—the difference, though seemingly lost on the theorists make all the difference in the world in understanding the translation and accuracy of the Book of Mormon.
    As mentioned in the last post, the theorists look at the Book of Mormon, which uses only one word for large bodies of water–“sea.” Other than the figurative lakes of fire and brimstone, we don’t read of “lakes,” “ponds,” “oceans,” “pools,” etc. 
    Some LDS scholars have suggested that–in at least some instances–the “seas” of the Book of Mormon may have been large lakes or other bodies of water (like the Dead Sea). The Bible uses not only “sea” but unlike the Book of Mormon it also uses “pond,” “pool,” and “lake.” In the D&C we find “sea,” “ocean,” and “pool.”
    Other than wheat, barley, and corn, and the generic term “tree” we find few plants in the Book of Mormon text. In contrast, the Bible mentions the poplar, pine, pomegranate, palm, almond, fig, gopher, chestnut, and olive.  Of the animals listed in the New World portions of the Book of Mormon, thirteen are physical creatures, whereas the remaining animals are figurative and may have been borrowed from Joseph’s vernacular to express common ideas. Two of the thirteen physical creatures are cumoms and cureloms from Jaredite times (for which we have no Nephite or modern translation). Of the eleven remaining physical creatures we find cow, ox, ass, horse, goat, wild goat, dog, sheep, swine, serpents, and elephant.

While “fowl” are said to exist in Book of Mormon lands, (the Jaredites set snares for fowls), no specific bird (nor even the word “bird”) is ever mentioned other than figuratively. However, in the Bible we find the same animals as listed in the Book of Mormon (with the exception of the “elephant”) along with the lion, bear, ape, ostrich, hare, bat, badger, greyhound, ram, ferret, lizard, chameleon, snail, mole, spider, stork, mouse, weasel, tortoise, vulture, frog, crow, camel, and many more
(Another interjectory note: The 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language states that a “fowl” is “The generic name of certain animals that move through the air by the aid of wings. Fowls have two feet, are covered with feathers, and have wings for flight. Bird is a young fowl, and may well be applied to the smaller species of fowls. It is used as a collective noun “fish and fowl.”)
    In the Bible, however, we read not only of birds and fowls but we find the hawk, dove, quail, owl, pigeon, partridge, swan, swallow, and crane. It quickly becomes apparent that reformed Egyptian had a small vocabulary. What does one do with a small vocabulary when there is a need to include a variety of new and unfamiliar items? The solution is to expand the definition of existing words.
    When translators run into the problem of untranslatable words, they resolve the issue by way of several options–such as adaptation, paraphrasing, borrowing, and more. The same thing happens when people find it necessary to label new and unfamiliar items–what is known as cross-cultural onomastica (onomastica refers to the names we assign to people, animals, or things). Anthropologists and linguists tell us that when a society encounters foreign floral and fauna, they often “loan-shift” words–they expand familiar terms to include unfamiliar items. Loan-shifting can also happen during the translation of one language to another. Two languages need not resemble each other phonetically in order for loan-shifting to occur. Instead of creating entirely new words for unfamiliar things, sometimes people tend to “translate” new things into their own language by expanding their current words to include the new item.
(Another interjectory note: To keep Joseph Smith from doing this, no doubt, three things were involved that do not exist in normal translation: 1) Urim and Thumim, 2) Seer Stone, and most importantly, 3) the Spirit acknowledging correctness)

Left: The American Buffalo; Right: (Bovidae Bison) The Bison; the bison is considered to be one of the largest types of cow in the world
   This problem is not limited to ancient societies. The American “buffalo,” for example, is actually a bison and is only distantly related to the water buffalo and African buffalo (the two true buffalos). What most Americans call a “moose” is actually an elk, “elk” are actually red deer, and “antelope” are not real antelopes.
(Interjectory note: This would be important if one were making a zoological record; however, when the translation into English uses common English known words, this technical understanding has little value or purpose)
Loan-shifting has occurred throughout history. When the Greeks first encountered a large unfamiliar animal in the Nile, for example, they named it hippopotamus or “river horse.” Likewise, when the conquistadors arrived in the New World both the natives and the Spaniards had problems classifying new animals. 

Central and South American Catamundi (coatimundi) or coati, is a member of the raccoon family, is active both day and night and an agile tree climber. The species Nasua narica is native to Southwest U.S.
When the Spaniards encountered the coatamundi they described the animal as active, as large as a small dog, but with a snout like a pig. One common Spanish name for this animal was tejon, but tejon is also the Spanish name for the badger as well as the raccoon. The Aztecs called it pisote, which means glutton, but the same term is also applied to peccaries or wild pigs.
(Interjectory note: notice they “described” the animals, they did not try to claim they sere a “dog,” or a “pig.” People are smart enough to know that animals, though they might resemble another animal, are not that animal when it is a different species or type)
    When the Maya saw the European goat they called it a “short-horned deer” and when the Miami Indians, who were familiar with cows, first encountered the unfamiliar buffalo they simply called them “wild cows.” Likewise the explorer DeSoto called the buffalo “vaca” which is Spanish for “cow.” The Delaware Indians named the cow “deer,” and a group of Miami Indians labeled the unfamiliar sheep “looks-like-a-cow.”
(Interjectory note: The word vaca, is from the Latin vacca, meaning cow in the Iberian language (Castilian, Portuguese, Galician, Catalan, Navarro-Aragon). It is also a type of black and white cow, and is sometimes used for “beef” and “meat.”)
    The reintroduced Spanish horse was unfamiliar to the Native Americans and so it became associated with either the deer or the tapir.
When Cortes and his horses arrived,, the Aztecs simply called the unfamiliar horses “deer.” One Aztec messenger reported to Montezuma: “Their deer carry them on their backs wherever they wish to go. These deer, our lord, are as tall as the roof of a house.” As McGuire explains, When the Aztecs encountered horses and called them “deer”, they didn’t suddenly lose all cognitive sense of the past meaning of the word “deer”–they simply expanded the meaning of that word in their vocabulary to include this new meaning as well as the old ones.
The Spaniards likewise expanded the definition of some of their animal categories. They called the native tapir an “ass,” and some of the Maya called the European horses and donkeys “tapirs” because, at least according to one observer, they looked so similar.

Two photos, adjusted for size differential, show the tapir (left) and the horse (right) that look absolutely nothing alike. It is one thing to consider that a limited vocabulary might result in loan-shifting, that it trying to find something to call an unknown animal, but something else entirely when trying to make a visual comparison
In fact, a tapir and a swine (pig) looks far more alike than a tapir and a horse; and the tapir more resembles the boar and wolf more than it does a horse
Tapirs are often confused with Anteaters by people who see them for the first time
(See the next post, “An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part III,” for a better understanding between normal translation and that accomplished by Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon—the difference, though seemingly lost on the theorists make all the difference in the world in understanding the translation and accuracy of the Book of Mormon)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part I

There are so many attempts by theorists and scholars who want to explain away the simple translation of the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon that perhaps we might want to take a look at the difference between normal translation and that accomplished by Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon.
The Popol Vuh, the so-called Quiche Mayan book of creation and the Dawn of Life and the glories of Gods and Kings. Originally written in Mayan, it begins with the deeds of Mayan gods in the darkness of a primeval sea and ends with the radiant splendor of the Mayan lords who founded the Quiché kingdom in the Guatemalan highlands
    First, let’s take a look at normal translation. As an example, and strictly for the sake of this illustration, let’s say the Book of Mormon was merely a sectarian work someone found of an ancient people, such as those found in Mesoamerica, like the Popol Vul, the Mesoamerican corpus of mytho-historical narratives of the Post Classic K’iche’ kingdom in Guatemala’s western highlands, written between 1554 and 1558, though it is questionably credited to be of the pre-Classic period, around 300 B.C.
(The following is basically a description of a Mesoamericanist regarding the translation of the Book of Mormon; however, we will deal with that later, since the premise is inaccurate—but for the sake of this discussion, we will use their descriptive argument to show the problem with normal translation)
    First, it would be important to remember that the book is not an ancient text–it’s a nineteenth-century translation of an ancient text. When we, as modern readers, read texts from ancient or foreign cultures, we often misunderstand what the ancient or foreign author was attempting to convey. Some of the things that seem “plain” to us are not so “plain” upon further investigation or once we understand the culture that produced the text.
    Words only have meaning as they relate to the social system of the speakers of a language. The same word can mean different things according to the era, language, and culture. One Hebrew word, for instance, can mean ram, deer, ibex, or mountain goat depending on the dialect and differing ecological zone. Similarly, the Hebrew word parash can mean “horse” as well as a human “horseman” depending on context. Even in English we can “catch” a nap as well as “catch” a fish or "catch" a cold–but the word “catch” means something different in each example. Most languages have words that can have multiple meanings depending on context. Our English “brother,” for example, can mean older brother, younger brother, male member in our Church, or a modern colloquialism for comrade or friend.
    To exacerbate the problem is the fact that all languages have certain words that are “untranslatable,” i.e., an untranslatable word has “no one-to-one equivalence between the word, expression or turn of phrase in the source language and another word, expression or turn of phrase in the target language.” For example, in Japanese there is no single word for “brother” or for “sister.” Instead there are words for “elder brother,” “younger brother,” “elder sister,” and “younger sister.” Imagine trying to translate the “brother of Jared” into Japanese–was he the older or younger brother?
    As a reader interacts with a text, he automatically and unconsciously conjures mental pictures based on his own culture and experiences. This is called recontextualization. When a text is written in a different culture or in a different era, our mental images may not accurately reflect what the original author had intended to portray. In Alma 11:1-20, for example, we read of a Nephite proto-monetary system with exchanges for differing weights of pieces of metal. According to more than a few modern readers, the “plain” reading suggests that the Nephites had coins. Several decades ago, the Church began to add notes, cross-references, and chapter headings to the Book of Mormon text. To modern readers it seemed obvious that Alma 11 was describing coins, so the chapter heading including a note that this chapter detailed a system of “Nephite coinage.” The Book of Mormon text, however, never mentions coins and recent Book of Mormon editions have corrected the chapter heading to read “Nephite monetary system.”
Did Zeezrom offer Amulek six onties of silver, or did he offer six onties worth of measures of grain—just because coins have not been found in Mesoamerica does not mean the Nephites did not have coins of some type
    Zeezrom, in a show of confidence and to win over the crowd offered Amulek six onties of silver—while Mesoamerican theorists want us to believe this was not six coins, but rather measures of wheat or some grain, it makes little sense that Zeezrom would have had on his person such an offer to warrant the words “Behold, here are six onties of silver.”
(As an interjectory note, it should be noted here that there is no justification of the modern belief among especially Mesoamerican scholars, that the actual scriptural record doesn’t suggest that the Nephites had coins—when Zeezrom said to Amulek “Behold, here are six onties of silver, and all these will I give thee if thou wilt deny the existence of a Supreme Being” (Alma 11:22). The term “Behold, here are” denotes their actual existence, which should suggest some type of coinage, for in no way could Zeezrom have been carrying sacks of grain or six lumps of gold in his pocket for this was a sizable amount of money, meant to tempt Amulek and also to impress the crowd to whom Zeezrom was playing; however, this is another issue to be dealt with later).
    Once we recognize that words don’t always easily translate from one language to another, and once we understand that not all languages delineate categories in the same way as English-speaking people, we find that there are at least two possible resolutions to the “horse” problem in the Book of Mormon: (1) definitions were expanded to include new meanings and (2) horses were present but their remains have not been found.
1. Definitions were Expanded to Include New Meanings. In the Bible the Hebrew word for “horse” is sus and means “leaping,” but it can also refer to the rapid flight of swallows and cranes. Typically our English Bibles translate the word “sus” as “horse,” but twice it is translated as “crane,” and twice as “horseback”–referring to a rider. 
(For accuracy sake, the Hebrew word sus is considered of foreign origin and not actually Herbew in its meaning of “horses” and is translated as horses 100 times, horse 32, horseman
2, horseback 1, and possessive (horse’s or horses’) 3 times. Sus in Hebrew more literally means “exult,” “rejoice,” “delight,” “glad,” “rejoice greatly.”)
The Book of Mormon uses the term "reformed Egyptian" in only one verse, Mormon 9:32, which says that "the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, [were] handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech" and that "none other people knoweth our language.” It also might be of interest to know that both Hieratic and Demotic are consider by some as ancient shorthand versions of Egyptian Hieroglyphics
     The Book of Mormon authors tell us that their written language, reformed Egyptian, was different than their spoken language. The Nephites would have liked to have written in Hebrew but they used reformed Egyptian instead because it took up less space on the plates (Mormon 9:32-33). Reformed Egyptian was probably a more compact script than Hebrew and it’s possible that it also consisted of a more limited vocabulary. Moroni tells us that if they could have written in Hebrew instead of reformed Egyptian there would have been fewer mistakes. Maybe he understood that at least some reformed Egyptian characters only approximated a concept. As we investigate the Book of Mormon text, we discover that, indeed, reformed Egyptian appears to have had a very limited vocabulary.
(As another interjectory note, this obviously places an extreme burden on the translator to know and understand what he is translating, as we will point out later Joseph Smith had help in this process that would not have been available with any normal translation)
    LDS researcher Benjamin McGuire has noted that while the Book of Mormon is roughly 270,000 words long, it has a vocabulary of only about 5,500 words. If we compare this to contemporary books of Joseph Smith’s day we find that Warren Ramsey’s The Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution had roughly as many words as the Book of Mormon but had a vocabulary 2.5 times greater than the Book of Mormon. Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days has only 1/3 as many words as the Book of Mormon, but has a vocabulary nearly 25% larger. Solomon Spalding wrote a novel that some critics claim was the original source for the Book of Mormon. That claim has been soundly refuted, but it’s interesting that Spalding’s manuscript is just under 15% the length of the Book of Mormon, but it has about the same sized vocabulary. The limited Book of Mormon vocabulary becomes even smaller when we remove the unique Book of Mormon names.
Some might suggest that the Book of Mormon’s vocabulary was limited because Joseph Smith’s vocabulary was limited. The evidence, however, contradicts such a theory. In the Book of Mormon, for example, we find a single word for a moving body of water–a “river.” In the D&;C, however, Joseph Smith uses “river,” “stream,” “rill,” and “brook.” Critics frequently claim that Joseph copied the language of the Bible when translating the Book of Mormon. The Bible, however, contains not only “river,” but descriptors such as “stream,” “creek,” and “brook”–none of which are in the Book of Mormon. Reformed Egyptian’s apparently limited vocabulary had only a single word for all moving bodies of water.
(See the next post, “An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part II,” for a better understanding between normal translation and that accomplished by Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon—the difference, though seemingly lost on the theorists make all the difference in the world in understanding the translation and accuracy of the Book of Mormon)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Lively Discussion – Part II

Continuing from the previous post with the lively discussion in the comments section of our April 9, 2016, article “Cajamarca: The City of Bountiful – Part I,” and the several points brought up to which we are responding: 
    Comment #6: “In the case of terraces too high to utilize planting, my point was that as the water receded, hauling the water to the higher terraces became more difficult, so lower terraces were used. There may be some overlap between these two reasons for higher terraces being unused and/or unusable.“
    Response: It took a long time to haul rock and place it, then back fill to level out a terrace. The work involved of hauling rocks and then dirt should have been sufficient to suggest to the builders that hauling water would then be an eternal requirement—so it would not have been a surprise to them that hauling water to the same height (an easier prospect than hauling heavy rock and dirt) and that it should not have been a later determent. In addition, the reason for building higher terraces is because the lower terraces had reached a maximum in their use and purpose, requiring additional terracing. So in neither cause would it make sense to leave them unused after building them—the populations increase, not decline, thus the need would have increased for more terracing, not less.
In an aerial view it is easy to see how the lands from the east were pushed upward toward the west, taking with it the Altiplano in which Titicaca lies, raising it several thousand feet in elevation and lifting some of the terraced corn fields above the growth line
    An example of how this might have happened is found in the corn fields on the sides of mountains rising above Lake Titicaca. The highest of these terraces, which by the way date older than the lower terraces at Titicaca, will not germinate nor grow corn, which only germinates and grow up to a certain altitude. Yet numerous terraced fields show signs of once growing corn, but now are at an altitude where corn will not grow.
    As a side note, the lower altitude terraces where corn could still grow are even at a level above Lake Titicaca. This means that the "pre-historic" peoples cultivating corn "lived" in the area "before" and "after" the numerous necessarily cataclysmic crustal deformations and uplifts that raised the Andes. Obviously, the cataclysmic uplifts caused the terraces where the corn "was" successfully cultivated to be raised to an altitude where the corn would not grow. As the mountains rose cataclysmically the peoples terraced their cornfields successively lower down the mountainsides. 
    In addition, there is a stone causeway leading "out" of Lake Titicaca, which has been speculated by some of archaeologists that the area used to be at sea level and the causeway led out to the Pacific ocean. The causeway now leads out of the lake to nowhere at 9,000  feet altitude. At the same time, there are stone ruins more ancient than the stone causeway leading out of Lake Titicaca, and are buried under six feet of sediment on the shallow bottom of the lake. The sediment contains pre-historic sea shell fossils, and there is not enough topsoil on the peaks surrounding Titicaca to have eroded down and covered these ancient ruins with six feet of sediment.
    Comment #7: "There are today tilted terraces used anciently for farming that are now too high to farm." Some claim it is because Lake Titicaca has shrank, and lower terraces were built closer to the water table.”
The ruins of Tiahuanaco and Puma Punku are southeast of Lake Titicaca just east of Peru over the border into Bolivia and very likely the Land of Ishmael in the Land of Nephi of the Land of Promise
    Response: First, the ruins of the ancient city of Tiahuanaco are 12 miles south of Lake Titicaca, and sits at 13,300 feet elevation, placing it 800 feet above the present lake. In the fringe area of Puma Punku, there are huge wharfs and docks that have caused archaeologists to claim that Tiahuanaco once nestled along the lake’s shore—but now, the massive fallen stones which were used to build this massive city lie scattered about, having at one time been tossed about like popcorn in a skillet, reminding one of Mormon’s abridged comment: “many were shaken till the buildings thereof had fallen to the earth” (3 Nephi 8:14), and the Lord’s comment: “And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land, and upon this people, because of their wickedness and their abominations” (3 Nephi 9:12), and Samuel’s words: “Yea, at the time that he shall yield up the ghost there shall be thunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours, and the earth shall shake and tremble; and the rocks which are upon the face of this earth, which are both above the earth and beneath, which ye know at this time are solid, or the more part of it is one solid mass, shall be broken up” (Helaman 14:21). And also of the type of destruction caused by an earthquake that lasted three hours (3 Nephi 8:19), resulting in “the rocks were rent in twain; they were broken up upon the face of the whole earth, insomuch that they were found in broken fragments, and in seams and in cracks, upon all the face of the land” (3 Nephi 8:18). Obviously, pieces of giant stone structures would have been tossed about like popcorn in a skillet.
    These scattered stones are so large that even today, it would be a technological marvel to take them from the mountainous quarry they were brought from, fifty miles away.
    The stone wharfs that are now broken and tossed about, suggest a violent ancient upheaval and it has been estimated that they were once of a size to handle as many as 100 ships docking, making the city once a bustling sea port. This, of course, suggests that the lake has receded at least 12 miles and dropped 800 feet.
Top Left: the fossil shell from an extinct air-breathing tortoise of the genus Chelonoidis, that cannot live above 164 feet; Top Right: Sea Shells on top of the Andes Mountains; Bottom Left: Fossilized sea shells found at Lake Titicaca; Bottom Right: Titicaca is today inhabited  by the only known freshwater seahorses, having once been sea water that evolved over time when the lake rose
    Around Lake Titicaca are all sorts of fossilized salt water shells and fish, suggesting the Altiplano was less than 2/3 of a mile in altitude at one time. Tortoise and turtle fossils, snakes as well as fossils of leaves and other animals support the suggestion (Journal of South American Sciences, 2015)
    Secondly, now called a fresh water lake, Titicaca was once a salt water sea, with its shoreline littered with millions of fossilized seashells. The marine fishes and seahorses in the lake, as well as other salt-water fauna, are all oceanic types found only in salt water. Researchers are convinced that these three-mile-high ruins once lay at sea level where a devastating earthquake could have torn the city asunder, lifting Tiwanaku and the lake to where they are now. How can this be proven? (For more on this, see our blog post of June 9, 2012, “Lake Titicaca’s Rise to its Present Height”).
    Thirdly, according to Mario M. Revollo (Lakes & Reservoirs Research and Management, “Management issues in the Lake Titicaca and Lake Poopo system: Importance of developing a water budget,” Vol 6 No 3, Wiley & Sons, 2001, pp225-229) almost all of the original salt water content of Lake Titicaca was drained from the lake after 1343 years of residence time (only three lakes in the world have longer residence or retention times). With limited feeder rivers and tilt-earth drainage, the Lake has not only shrunk in size through drainage, but also through extensive evaporation, causing the world’s largest salt flat as the water drained to the south along the Altiplano tableland, spreading out over the Desaguadero Basin, where it fed Lake Poopó (a saline lake) and Lake Urur Uru, and the Colpasa Salt Marsh in the wet years, but mainly evaporated, leaving the largest Salt Flat (Salar de Tunupa) in the world—over twenty-five times larger than Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah (Also, for more on this, see our blog post of June 9, 2012, “Lake Titicaca’s Rise to its Present Height”).
    In addition, it should be noted that Lake Titicaca is basically a closed lake, its body of water was much larger in the distant past, and encompassed areas today covered in salt flats and wasteland. Also, it is partially fed by rainfall and meltwater from glaciers on the sierras that abut the Altiplano. Five major river systems and more than twenty other smaller streams empty into the lake, though their relative flow volumes are basically equalized by the lake’s outflow and drainage, with a total annual inflow of 201 m3s-1, and 270 m3s-1 is added from precipitation on the lake. The Desaguadero receives water from several tributaries during its course and has a mean annual flow of 89 m3s-1 before bifurcating (dividing) to empty into Lake Poopó.
Top: As Lake Titicaca continues to lose its size, Lake Poopó, downstream, has evaporated over time, losing much of its water, and as it dries up, the salt that was once ocean salt in Lake Titicaca forms, covering the area in between; Bottom: Boater stands in his stranded fishing boat on a lake no longer with water
    Thus Titicaca, Desaguadero River and Lake Poopo System (or TDPS System) consists of the hydrographic basins of Lake Titicaca, which occupies 39% of the area; the Desaguadero River, which together with Lake Poopo covers 38%; and the Coipasa Salt Marsh basin, accounts for the rest, with the Desaguadero River links Lake Titicaca to lakes Urur Uru and Poopo. Having only a single season of free circulation, the lake is monomictic (deep water undergoing a single stratification and mixing cycle during the year), and water passes through Lago Huinaimarca and flows out the single outlet at the Rio Desaguadero, which then flows south through Bolivia to Lake Poopo. This only accounts for about 10% of the lake's water balance. Evapotranspiration (evaporation and transpiration from plants), caused by strong winds and intense sunlight at altitude, balances the remaining 90% of the water input.
    The point of all this is to show that Titicaca is not so much as a natural occurring high mountain lake, but as one that began anciently at a much lower level, where saline content was a major portion of the lake’s makeup. As an example, the salinity of water is measure in parts per thousand (ppt), that is how much salt exists in the water. Titicaca's waters are limpid and only brackish, with salinity ranging from 5.2 to 5.5 parts per 1,000. 3.0 is consider salty for freshwater, and 3.5 even more so, Lake Titicaca at over 5 parts per thousand is quite salty for a freshwater lake—according to the Office of Naval Research “fresh water” lakes are less than 1 part (0.5) per thousand—inland “fresh waters” are generally about 1 to 3 ppt. On the other hand, while rivers vary, an example would be: the Columbia River in Washington at 0.0023 ppt, to the Mississippi River at 0.025 ppt, to the Colorado River (Colorado) at 0.121 ppt to the Colorado River (California) at 0.343 ppt, though nowhere near as high as many hypersaline lakes or the oceans—though the Baltic Sea is 10 ppt, oceans are generally at 35 ppt.