Saturday, March 18, 2017

Why Are Native American Languages so Diverse if they All Came from Lehi? – Part II

Continuing from the previous post, regarding the difference in the numerous languages today and at the time the European reached the New World from the single language first arriving with Lehi and his family. 
    Today, of course, the Americas truly have remarkable complexity in language, with roughly 100 major language families. But what does that actually imply about the Book of Mormon? First, it should be kept in mind that the Book of Mormon does not say that all Native Americans descended from Lehi. While the scriptural record does not lend support to others living in the Land of Promise as the same time other than the Jatedites, Nephites, Mulekites and Lamanites, that does not preclude other influences arriving in the Land of Promise between the demise of the Nephite Nation in 385 A.D. and the arrival of the Spaniards around 1500 A.D.
During that eleven hundred years, other peoples or groups could easily have, and most likely did, arrive in some numbers to the shores of the Americas. What languages they spoke, and what, if any, influence they had on the Hebrew language the Lamanites once spoke and later degenerated into numerous languages and dialects, is simply not known and cannot be speculated upon.
    Of course, there are those who believe and promote the idea that “there is no reason to doubt that many other groups were present in other parts of the hemisphere—it is a gross misconception to think that the Book of Mormon describes the only origins of all ancient peoples in the Americas, though some people have made that assumption.” Whether that is true or not, we have no way of knowing, and in all reality, is of little consequence.
    That Mesoamerican theorists have to maintain that idea since Middle American history tells them that other groups existed there, they obviously have to maintain that these groups interacted with, or at least, existed at the same time as the Book of Mormon period. The same is true of the Heartland, Great Lakes and Eastern U.S. theorists, since there is considerable evidence of numerous aboriginal inhabitants, with far less capabilities than the Jaredites and Lehites would have possessed, existed in North America around the same time.
    However, to require other groups and peoples, speaking diverse languages, is not required to understand that a single language, over a thousand years, among people with no contact with the outside world, or one another, will change—and in many cases, change dramatically—especially when those groups were illiterate as many of the Native American tribes were when the Europeans arrived. To insist other peoples had to have been present to influence those changes is simply an irrational need to support other agenda purposes—such as having to have people in the scriptural record where no other people existed.
These theorists continue with their insistence of other groups, saying, “Furthermore, it might be noted that the remarkable linguistic complexity of the pre-Columbian New World is rather difficult to explain on the basis of any unitary theory of Indian origins, including the one that has them all coming across a Siberian land bridge,” or in the case of the Book of Mormon, coming across in just three separate voyages (Jaredites, Lehites and Mulekites), but making up one (unitary) “story-line” within the Book of Mormon.
    As these theorists like to point out, “Of the world's approximately 3000 languages, that is tongues that are mutually unintelligible, about 400 were spoken in the Western Hemisphere." That, by the way is only about 13%, which in all reality, is a rather small number considering the area makes up about 1/3 of the world’s land surface.
    However, the point is, language evaluations and statistics determined in our modern era do not necessarily reflect the circumstances of the Americas in 400 A.D., long after the time of the demise of the Jaredites, and at the time of the demise of the Nephites, or in 1500 A.D., at the time of the European arrivals, as to how many languages were spoken, how many dialects were spoken, and what the connections might have been between languages since from the European influence, most, if not all, native languages were heavily influenced by word exchanges and inclusions over the following hundreds of years when these languages intermixed, and before modern-day linguists began seriously looking into and categorizing them. After all, somewhere around the time of Noah’s grandson, Nimrod, (Genesis 10:6-8), everyone spoke one single language (Genesis 11:1), but since that time one language has become 3000 “mutually unintelligible” languages.
It should also be noted that linguists, beginning with Major John Wesley Powell (left) in the 19th century, have classified these languages into about 100 "families" of genetically related tongues, similar in scope to the Indo-European family (which includes most of the languages of Europe, Persia and India).
    In other words, there were approximately one hundred language families in pre-Columbian America that were as distinct from one another as the Indo-European family (which is made up of such varied languages as English, Sanskrit, Russian, Greek, Latin, Spanish, Norwegian, Persian, Irish Gaelic, and Hindi) is distinct from Chinese, Sumerian, and Arabic. Furthermore, even in the view of those most committed to an Asian origin for the American Indian, at best only a few languages of the New World can be even tentatively linked with Asian tongues:
    With the exception of Eskimo, speakers of which are found on both sides of the Bering Straits, no native American language has been found to have positive connections with any in the Old World, although some arguments have been advanced for the affinity of Athapascan (spoken in northwestern North America and by the Navajo and Apache of the American Southwest) and certain languages of eastern Asia
    Thus, despite the uncontested fact that mainstream anthropological opinion overwhelmingly agrees that the ancestors of the American Indians came from Asia, even very establishment discussions of pre-Columbian linguistics acknowledge that "one cannot point out Asiatic origins for New World languages.
Along the Andean corridor  of Western Central South America, from Ecuador to central Chile, the indigenous languages have been just two: Quechua and Aymara

    What has often been overlooked, however, mostly because the work done in Middle America by Mesoamerican theorists and their groups have overshadowed  the LDS scene as as to what has taken place in Andean South America. As an example, when the Spanish arrived, there were very few separate languages spoken in Ecuador, Peru, western Bolivia and northern Chile. Quechua (the most widely spoken language family of indigenous peoples of the Americas) and Aymara (possibly related to Quechua) were not only the two dominant languages spoken in Andean South America at the time of the Spanish arrival, but almost the only languages spoken, with the additional three secondary languages, Jivaroan, Tukanoan and Cahuapanan.
This is very different than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, where very large numbers of languages were spoken, with 135 languages in Brazil alone; 12 main languages in Central America and 33 secondary languages; 21 Mayan languages in Mesoamerica, plus many others in southern Mexico, Yucatan, and western Honduras; and 7 major native American languages in North America, with hundreds of such different languages spoken at the time of the European arrival.
    Thus, other than Andean South America, where only two major languages existed at the time of the Spanish arrival, and a handful of small dialects, as compared to the numerous complexity of other languages spoken in Central, Meso, and North America, should suggest, even to the most prudent, that Andean South America more closely identifies with the two languages of the Book of Mormon (Nephite and Lamanite) at the time of the demise of the Nephite Nation, than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere.

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