Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Early Peruvian Languages-Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding the Nephite and Lamanite languages were once the same, both originating from Hebrew within the family of Lehi who lived at Jerusalem all his days (1 Nephi 1:4). And after a separation of 400 years, both groups could still converse as evidenced by Zeniff communicating in 200 BC with the King of the Lamanites (Mosiah 9:6-7), and King Noah’s chief priest, Amulon, in 150 BC, pleading with the Lamanites for their safety (Mosiah 23:33). 
    However, Amulon then teaches the Lamanites the Nephite language (Mosiah 24:4) despite the fact that they could talk to one another. Thus it might be that what Amulon taught the Lamanites was the written Nephite language (Mosiah 24:6), which opened the door to Lamanite commerce and business (Mosiah 24:7), enabling them to become rich through trade, but also wise and cunning in the ways of the world, though they had previously been a simple and friendly people toward each other.
There were no longer any “ites” among them, they were not separated by heritage, or beliefs, or political reasons--There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God
    Around 80 BC, the Lamanites and Nephites were communicating with one another on a large scale (Alma 23:18), and during the first two centuries AD, there was no longer a division between these people (4 Nephi 1:17) during which time they would have had a completely compatible common language. This probably lasted throughout the next two centuries, and by 385 A.D., Mormon was communicating with the King of the Lamanites, at least through correspondence (Mormon 6:2).
    Therefore, in the Land of Promise, we might expect to find a language that may well have been divisional through separation over some 1000 years, and somewhat changed from its original core. Such a division of language may well be found in Quechua and Aymara in the Andes. 
    Take for example the change in our common English. The following is an English sentence of common words used in a common format in 1000 AD:
 How this sentence appears in 2000 AD:
    We children beg you, teacher, that you should teach us to speak correctly, because we are ignorant and we speak corruptly
    This is taken from Ælfric's Colloquy or the Colloquy of Aelfric Eynsham, an English abbot,   as well as a consummate, prolific writer in Old English of hagiography, homilies, biblical commentaries, and other genres, and a monk in Dorset and Oxfordshire about the end of the tenth and the beginning of the eleventh centuries, who took young pupils and wrote his colloquy (or dialogue) in Old English and also in Latin to teach them the Latin language.  That is, he wrote a sentence in their known English language and the same sentence in Latin, then by showing them the difference, he was able to teach them Latin.
    The example above of the Old English sentence compared to that of our day should show how much a language can change over a 1000 year period, even when found within a prolifically written language as English and constantly taught in schools over that 1000 year period. Then consider how changes would have been made in early Hebrew among the Nephites, who also wrote profusely (Helaman 3:13-15), and among the Lamanites who had no written language for many centuries. Thus, Moroni, at the close of this 1000 year period, wrote: “..we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also...” (Mormon 9:32-33).
    Standard language reference works contain no reference to a “reformed Egyptian” language. For years linguists have discredited the idea of a reformed Egyptian language, with not a single non-Mormon scholar acknowledging the possible existence of such a language, or orthography of such a language. Nor has any professional Egyptologist been able to recognize the characters displayed as “reformed Egyptian.” In fact, it is claimed that no Egyptian language has ever been found in the Western Hemisphere, and even the Mormon archaeologist, Ross T. Christensen, has weakly stated that “reformed Egyptian is a form of writing which we have not yet identified in the archaeological material available to us.”
    While all of this is true, of course, perhaps a look this matter differently might be helpful. As an example, might not Shakespeare, Chaucer, Keats, Dante, Marvell, Milton, Locke, Bunyan, Behn, Dryden, Voltaire, Pope, Swift, Radcliffe, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Wilde, Scott, Austen, Eliot, Tennyson, Browning, and scores of other successful and professional writers of the past believe there was no such language as shorthand?
A regular shorthand class in college in the 1950s; every girl needed to know how to take shorthand if she was going into the business world
    Yet, in its heydey, tens of thousands of people used shorthand daily, it was taught in nearly all high schools in the country, and an absolute requirement for working as a stenographer or secretary until small, effective voice recording devices were invented.
    That an Egyptologist has never heard of reformed Egyptian, therefore claiming it does not exit and is merely a bunch of scribblings, is both arrogant and unprofessional. One could easily challenge any linguist to recite even half of the known languages of the world, and most have no knowledge of all the unknown languages that have been found but cannot be interpreted.
     It is always amazing when professionals claim this or that did or did not exist when trying to compare it with known information, material, or practices in an entirely different time frame. That is, whatever the language was that Nephi called “reformed Egyptian” in 600 B.C., would be hard to compare with any known Egyptian language hieroglyphics of antiquity we see today. What we find on the walls of Egyptian tombs, pyramids, etc., has not been changed or altered since they were written in the centuries B.C., which was in a contemporary time with their original and actual use. Egyptian, after all, is a dead language and has been for more than two thousand years. In fact, the written Egyptian language, called hieroglyphics, was used in predynastic Egypt, around 3100 BC, but very little is known of it because the inscriptions are so brief; while the language of the inscriptions of the Old Kingdom (2650 - 2135 BC) when the first continuous texts appear, are better known, and the language of the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom (2135 - 1785 BC), was a version used in religious and monumental inscriptions until the end of the Graeco-Roman period, which ended the hieroglyphic period. As time went on, new ones would be picked up, and others would fall into disuse, but by the end of the period, (323-27 BC), Egyptian Hieroglyphics really became a mysterious system from a long forgotten past. One aspect was the invention of a large number of new signs, that at the end of it's use in Roman times, there were about 6000 signs in use at once.
    For someone, even an expert in the field, to claim that they know of no such language or characters as in Reformed Egyptian, one must realize that they are claiming to know languages long dead, unknown by anyone today, and not at all studied.
(See the next post, “Early Peruvian Languages-Part III,” for more understanding on ancient Egyptian, its changes, and why few people would really know about one small system within it that may not even have been a major category at the time Lehi used it)

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