Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

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Tom
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Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

Post by Tom »

I recently spent $100 on two large volumes by Doctors Skousen and Carmack claiming, among other things, that a number of word uses, phrases, and expressions in the Book of Mormon disappeared from English one to three centuries prior to 1830. See The Nature of the Original Language of the Book of Mormon (Parts 3 and 4, Volume III) (hereafter NOL). https://byustudies.BYU.edu/content/natu ... tical-text

Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned that in a forthcoming book, Doctors Skousen and Carmack announce that they have determined that 10 of the 39 archaic vocabulary items discussed in the first section of NOL are not actually archaic but persisted through the 1700s. Well now. According to a curious introductory note, the two Doctors had been "hampered by an inability to fully use the Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) database." "Now," though, "much of that difficulty has been overcome, and [Doctor] Carmack has spent the last year or so reviewing the potentially archaic words, phrases, and expressions discussed in NOL." Here is the introductory note's revealing gloss on this development: "Some of the examples given in NOL did not die out as early as they had proposed. But a good many solid examples still hold up as almost certainly or probably archaic." Well, that doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the Ghost Committee Theory, does it?

Some questions: if the two good Doctors entirely overcome their inability to use the ECCO database, will they drop more items from the archaic vocabulary list? Will the list eventually disappear like a 16th century spirit or fold like Darwin's House of Cards? Should I ask for a refund on my purchase of NOL?

For those keeping score at home:

26 archaic words and phrases
break ‘to stop, interrupt’
but ‘unless, except’
call of ‘need for’
consigned that ‘assigned that’
counsel ‘to consult, counsel with’
course ‘direction’
cross ‘to contradict’
depart ‘to divide, separate, part’
desirous ‘desirable’
devour ‘to consume, eat up’
extinct ‘physically dead’
flatter ‘to coax, entice’
give ‘to describe, portray’
idleness ‘meaningless words or actions’
manifest ‘to expound, unfold’
mar ‘to hinder, stop’
nethermost ‘nethermost’
opinion ‘expectation’
profane ‘to act profanely’
raign ‘to arraign’
scatter ‘to separate from the main group’
sermon ‘conversation, discussion’
study ‘to concentrate thought upon’
subsequent ‘consequent’
welfare ‘success’
whereby ‘why’

10 persistent words
assured ‘sure’
belove ‘to love’
depressed ‘weakened’
detect ‘to expose’
great ‘supreme’
hail ‘to challenge by hailing’
rebellion ‘opposition’
reserve ‘to preserve’
tell ‘to prophesy, foretell’
views ‘visions’

4 re-created words
engraven ‘to engrave’
molten ‘to melt ore’
rent ‘torn or rent part’
scarlets ‘scarlet cloths or clothing’

1 biblical word
may ‘be able to, can’
Last edited by Tom on Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
“A scholar said he could not read the Book of Mormon, so we shouldn’t be shocked that scholars say the papyri don’t translate and/or relate to the Book of Abraham. Doesn’t change anything. It’s ancient and historical.” ~ Hanna Seariac

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Everybody Wang Chung
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Re: Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

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Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned that in a forthcoming book, Doctors Skousen and Carmack announce that they have determined that 10 of the 39 archaic vocabulary items discussed in the first section of NOL are not actually archaic but persisted through the 1700s. Well now. According to a curious introductory note, the two Doctors had been "hampered by an inability to fully use the Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) database." "Now," though, "much of that difficulty has been overcome, and [Doctor] Carmack has spent the last year or so reviewing the potentially archaic words, phrases, and expressions discussed in NOL." Here is the introductory note's revealing gloss on this development: "Some of the examples given in NOL did not die out as early as they had proposed. But a good many solid examples still hold up as almost certainly or probably archaic." Well, that doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the Ghost Committee Theory, does it?

Some questions: if the two good Doctors entirely overcome their inability to use the ECCO database, will they drop more items from the archaic vocabulary list. Will the list eventually disappear like a 16th century spirit or fold like Darwin's House of Cards? Should I ask for a refund on my purchase of NOL?
Wow! How much money has the Interpreter paid Skousen and Carmack for their "research?"

How difficult would it have been for them to fully use the ECCO database? What is their excuse for not properly using the ECCO database prior to publication?

This is just embarrassing for Skousen, Carmack and the Interpreter.
"I'm on paid sabbatical from BYU in exchange for my promise to use this time to finish two books."

Daniel C. Peterson, 2014

Tom
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Re: Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

Post by Tom »

Everybody Wang Chung, I believe the Interpreter Foundation has spent nearly $313,000 on Volume III of the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project.

I've forwarded this information to the Relief Society sister in Parowan. She contributes most of her monthly pension to the Interpreter Foundation. The widow's mite, as it were. However, this bit of news may lead her to cut off her contributions entirely.
“A scholar said he could not read the Book of Mormon, so we shouldn’t be shocked that scholars say the papyri don’t translate and/or relate to the Book of Abraham. Doesn’t change anything. It’s ancient and historical.” ~ Hanna Seariac

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Physics Guy
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Re: Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

Post by Physics Guy »

How much have Carmack and Skousen said about what exactly they mean by calling an expression archaic? I mean, Old English is archaic in such a way that nobody who hasn't specifically studied it could speak a word of it today if their lives depended on it. Shakespearian English is also archaic, however, and everyone recognizes this, but most high school students can quote some Shakespearian English nonetheless.

For that matter I would never naturally try to speak in 1920s slang but if for some reason I wanted to try I do vaguely recall quaint phrases like "the bee's knees" and the infamous "twenty-three-skidoo!" Speakeasies have all been gone since the repeal of Prohibition but I still know what they were; I can't dance the Charleston but I know what it was; thanks to an Annie Lennox song I know that you can style your hair in a "Marcel wave".

If I were pressed I bet I could trot out quite a number of expressions that haven't been current colloquial English since long before I was born. I heard them from old people, who were sometimes remembering older people, or I read them in old books. These expressions are archaic but I and lots of people still know how they were used. Just because people have stopped speaking normally in a certain way doesn't mean they couldn't still speak that way abnormally, if for some reason they wanted to try.

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huckelberry
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Re: Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

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Physics Guy, I like how you presented this question. However I find myself wondering about twenty three skidoo. I am sure I have heard the phrase at least a few times but I find myself unable to answer what the phrase should mean. Bees knees I find much clearer. I once pilfered honey combs from an abandoned cabin. heating the combs separated wax and large things and left a wonderful honey, complete with a few scattered bees knees.

I tried asking a question similar to yours and did not get much response. Perhaps the people who view the theory as anything but a complete bozo affair are few and far between and not reading here.

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Re: Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

Post by Physics Guy »

I've asked this question a few times, too. Once I even asked Carmack. The answers haven't been encouraging.

I was hoping someone would clearly grasp the point of the question and decisively answer it by pointing me to extensive literature on what makes the difference between Old-English-level archaism and the "current" archaism of Shakespeare or Bunyan or the 1920s. Instead the few answers I've gotten have been of the form, "Archaic is archaic which means it's archaic, I see no problem here move along."

There seems to be no recognition that archaic expressions in the Book of Mormon only make it impossible for Joseph Smith to have written it ... if archaic expressions are impossible to write. But, well, are they impossible to write? Or are they merely unpopular because they seem quaint and silly? Carmack and Skousen do not seem to be able to look at this question; they just blink and look away.

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Re: Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

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Neither are qualified to render an opinion.

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malkie
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Re: Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

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Physics Guy wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 3:15 pm
...
I can't dance the Charleston but I know what it was; thanks to an Annie Lennox song I know that you can style your hair in a "Marcel wave".
We require evidence for your assertions.

Please post moving pictures of your good self, without a Marcel wave, not singing an Annie Lennox song, and not dancing the Charleston, or we shall be obliged to disbelieve you.
(monochrome, and without sound, of course - anything else would be anachronistic)

That, young man, is how scientific evidence works
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Physics Guy
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Re: Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

Post by Physics Guy »

Well, no, they're likely not; it's going to be a specialized topic in psycholinguistics if anyone has even looked at it at all.

But it seems to me that people with their kind of training ought to understand the issue and have thought about it seriously. And if they had thought about it seriously then their training should have allowed them to track down much better answers to my question by now, if any such answers exist. Or if in fact the question has received too little study to have any clear answer then their training ought to have led them to recognize that this issue draws a fat question mark over all of their claims about Book of Mormon EModE.

So what's hard to understand, given their level of expert training, is that they keep pounding the table about archaic language in the Book of Mormon while leaving the connection between these archaisms, and any conclusion about Book of Mormon authorship, to be filled in by lay people based on popular misconceptions of what Chomskyan innateness means. I'm having a hard time finding other words to use about this besides "dishonest".

These guys have to know that archaic language in the Book of Mormon is really a moot point at best in the authorship debate. They may be telling themselves that they've been trumpeting their archaisms just because these are nice little academic discoveries to brighten the eyes of professors. They must realize, though, that the reason they've been getting attention from Mormons for their archaisms is that Mormons with no expertise in linguistics are mistakenly thinking that the great linguists Skousen and Carmack have a proof that Joseph Smith was no fraud. By now Skousen and Carmack ought to have let slip, even just by accident, that of course they have no such proof at all. Their constant repetition of "archaic" and "obsolete", without any word about whether those terms do or do not imply "impossible for Smith to have written", has to count by now as studied avoidance of an obvious issue.

I could probably get attention and even money by talking up quantum teleportation. Lay people would eat it right up, thinking of Star Trek, while I could put my hand on my heart about how many recent papers in major journals have indeed really been about quantum teleportation. If any excited lay person even went so far as to offer to buy me a coffee over teleportation, however, I'd feel compelled to point out that the technical term "teleportation" as it is used in current physics refers to a form of communication, not a means of transportation. Nothing material moves. It's never going to be Star Trek. It's not even trying to be Star Trek.

And then I'd likely lose my coffee. And maybe it's sad that lay people aren't excited enough about a mysterious way of sending information to buy a poor theoretical physicist a cup of coffee just for that, without asking us to beam anyone up or make them Tea Earl Grey Hot. But if I took that coffee because some guy thought I was going to be Scottie, I'd be dishonestly trading on the ambiguity of a technical term that doesn't mean what it sounds like.

And I can't help feeling that Skousen and Carmack are doing something like that.

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Re: Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

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malkie wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 5:20 am
Please post moving pictures of your good self, without a Marcel wave, not singing an Annie Lennox song, and not dancing the Charleston, or we shall be obliged to disbelieve you.
Challenge accepted. Below please find a picture that fulfills your stated requirements so perfectly that it doesn't show me at all. But look at it, and then ask Google—sincerely—whether everything I said is not true. If you get a warm feeling that you could really go for a beer, then that's the sign for you to find a speakeasy.



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Re: Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

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Dr. Peterson ought to be ashamed of himself for promoting this nonsense for so long. I know he is incredibly quick to take offense at being called a liar but he must know how weak this EmodE crap is. Or, perhaps he is so desperate to find something, anything and perhaps Skousen and Carmack are too that they simply cannot see reality. Also, and I don't think they realize how the Streisand effect works and how it may apply here. Efforts to cover up bring more eyes to the issue. Likewise, silly arguments in support of a movement or religion bring too many investigative eyes to the issue and will lead questioning members away once they realize that EmodE is all that there is between something tangible and a full on fiction model.
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Re: Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

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Physics Guy wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:49 pm
I've asked this question a few times, too. Once I even asked Carmack. The answers haven't been encouraging.

I was hoping someone would clearly grasp the point of the question and decisively answer it by pointing me to extensive literature on what makes the difference between Old-English-level archaism and the "current" archaism of Shakespeare or Bunyan or the 1920s. Instead the few answers I've gotten have been of the form, "Archaic is archaic which means it's archaic, I see no problem here move along."

There seems to be no recognition that archaic expressions in the Book of Mormon only make it impossible for Joseph Smith to have written it ... if archaic expressions are impossible to write. But, well, are they impossible to write? Or are they merely unpopular because they seem quaint and silly? Carmack and Skousen do not seem to be able to look at this question; they just blink and look away.
This is an excellent question, Physics Guy. If archaic is something we are supposed to take as truly significance, it ought to have a firm definition and clear data associated with it. X is archaic because of A, B, or C. If we see X N number of times, then we can be confident this is truly archaic language. That ought to be doable, I should think, for historical linguists?
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Physics Guy
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Re: Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

Post by Physics Guy »

I’m pretty sure they could do that, yeah—and for a whole range of possible meanings of “archaic”. But even recognizing that there may be a range of meanings of “archaic”, only some of which would rule out Smith as a fraud, seems to be a step too far for Skousen and Carmack.

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Re: Folding like Darwin's House of Cards?

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For myself, I cannot fathom wasting my precious money on that paper fire starter when I know how to use flint and steel.......
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