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

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Church in a Changing World: Robert Griffiths Answers the Question, "What if I'm Uncomfortable with the Church's Position on Social Issues?

The author of the guest post below, Robert D. Griffiths, is one of the most impressive men I know. I interacted with him frequently while he was serving as the US Consul General for the State Department's Consulate in Shanghai (2011-2014) and continue to learn from him. His profound experience as a diplomatic and his deep knowledge of Asia and humanity in general add depth to his counsel. I should also observe that he and his wife are two of the most genuine and loving Christians I know. Here he shares some important thoughts about dealing with the discomfort that some people face regarding the Church's position on social issues. I think his guidance should be considered by those in and out of the Church. — Jeff L.

The Church in a Changing World

What if I'm uncomfortable with the Church's position on social issues?

By Robert D. Griffiths 

I was struck when someone close to me, in reaction to the Church’s newly launched effort to aid refugees, blurted out, “Finally, something about the Church we can be proud of!”

This got me thinking about the pressures that are put on Church members in a day when society, in an effort to be accommodating to people of all persuasions, becomes distorted by single-issue politics. Social media and a 24-hour news cycle flood us with narrowly-focused information and criticism and it is easy to miss the big picture. In such an environment, it is too easy to either feel embarrassed that the Church is not more responsive to the social issues of the day, or to hunker down in traditional Mormon culture and wait for the Second Coming.

I was born in Utah, but have lived overseas in developed and developing countries for some 30 years, and in the big cities of the U.S. East and West Coasts for another 11. These years have provided rich and perspective-broadening experiences. Yet when I consider what I have seen in the world, and the challenges and changes that pummel societies across the globe, and in “Zion,” it seems to me that the world could really use what the Church has to offer.

Oh, I am well aware that the Church is not perfect. It has made mistakes historically and continues to fall short of its ideals today. And there are those whose personal experiences and circumstances lead them to believe that the Church is not for them. But in a plea to not throw the baby out with the bath water, consider the following:

Belonging.   The refugee crisis in the Middle East reflects a resurgence in hatred among ethno-religious groups such that murder of “the other” is hardly given a thought. In some places in Africa, there is similar strife. The hateful rhetoric between China and Japan and that coming out of North Korea--while not yet having led to blows--is growing uncomfortably harsh. And then there is the anger directed at the United States from many quarters. All of this is disturbingly reminiscent of pre-world War II rhetoric that justified hatred of other peoples as sub-human and deserving of persecution, even death.

Even at home, inter-racial tensions are becoming ever sharper in many of our cities. Many political attitudes reflect not only a zero-sum mentality, but in some quarters “understanding” “empathy” and “compromise” have become vilified. One national political commentator famously declared on national TV that he wanted to kill someone for holding different political views. On a personal level, one result of the disintegration of the nuclear family in many people’s lives is an increase in loneliness and a sense of rootlessness. While friendships can be rich and wonderful, they do not carry the same level of commitment, and sense of belonging, that family relations do.

One of the often overlooked, but profoundly significant, teachings of the Church is that all human beings are brothers and sisters. Not just in some metaphorical sense, or as a warm and fuzzy social attitude, but literally we are all children of Heavenly Parents. That teaching alone, if internalized throughout the world, would significantly mitigate war, hatred and strife and replace them with a sense of common roots and shared interest with all in the human family.

Since the LDS Church was relieved of the burden of discrimination against blacks and the priesthood some 40 years ago, Mormons, for the most part, have readily re-embraced the fundamental LDS doctrine of the human family. In a recent stake leadership meeting I attended, most of the well-informed and well-received discussion was led by Hispanic and black leaders. And more striking, I think, was a sales flyer I received in the mail from an orthodontist in a small Utah town. To make his practice more attractive to conservative Mormons--the majority of his potential patients--he highlighted a picture of his own large family, which includes four well-dressed and smiling (with straight teeth!) children of African descent (presumably adopted) along with four biological children. In dealing with minorities, Mormons may lack the nuance that will come in time from greater exposure, but their hearts, most of the time, are in the right place.

While our numbers are still small, the expansion of the Church with its fundamental teaching of the human family acts as a hatred-absorbing control rod as it expands its presence in communities at home and in nations abroad. And the lonely soul is comforted.

Forgiveness. As imperfect people and nations perpetrate injustices on one another, grudges grow. Revenge can motivate otherwise peaceful people to commit cruelties and even atrocities in an effort to even the score. Justice, it seems, demands it. No one wants to be played for a sap. Without a mechanism to mitigate a desire for revenge and deflate feelings of vengeance, injustices can pile up until enmity replaces humanity. This happens on the international level—witness the ethnic and clan-based violence that undermines Mid-East peace today—and on the personal level when perceived injustices cause friends to backstab or family members stop talking to each other.

In a complex world, it is human nature to try to simplify wherever possible. We want to separate the good guys from the bad guys, despite a more honest recognition that no one is all bad, or all good. Americans are rightly proud of the rule of law and the ability to sue for justice, but we too readily mark for life those who have committed crimes, even after they have paid their debt to society. Just ask anyone who has ever had a felony conviction how easy it is to apply for a job. While there are certain individuals who may always be a danger to society, we create a huge, benighted underclass of our fellow citizens simply because it is easier to pigeon-hole “bad guys” rather than allow for the possibility that people can put past mistakes behind them.

The benefits of forgiveness are widely recognized, at least on a certain level. Putting historical grievances to rest can provide a foundation for peace between previously hostile nations and peoples. Nelson Mandela’s extension of forgiveness to those who had terribly wronged him created a template for an entire nation to move forward in peace. It is also widely recognized, if not widely practiced, that people are psychologically much healthier when they stop carrying burdens of self-pity and revenge. But it is hard for forgiveness to get traction when it seems to undermine justice.

The Church has had its share of injustices perpetrated upon it, and has perpetrated some of its own, but the overwhelming strain in church teaching and practice is to do right and forgive wrongs. The Saints are in fact told to “forgive all men.”   But the real power behind the Church’s doctrine of forgiveness is the understanding that justice is not undermined when we forgive. As we are patient, a just God will right all wrongs. Moreover, we believe that people’s hearts can truly be changed and the ‘natural man’ can be overcome.

Knowing that justice will be served, and hearts can be changed, the Mormon practice of forgiveness provides the world a welcome and powerful tool for the amelioration of ill-will and improved human relations at all levels.

Hope. Traditional values and religion have taken a beating as the scientific revolution reduced the need for Divine explanations of natural phenomena, as greater transparency has revealed hypocrisy in religious institutions, and as almost unrestrained freedom to think and act as individuals has become the norm in many societies. It is good for falsehoods to be exposed and for new and worthwhile ideas to enrich humankind. But in the very imperfect and sometimes cruel process of tearing down traditional institutions, a price is paid. While Karl Marx may have dismissed religion as “the opiate of the masses,” the fact is that religious faith has provided a vital measure of hope to the vast majority of the world’s people throughout the ages, especially those who have not been privileged to enjoy material abundance and a life where things go their way.

It is hard for secular society to provide hope, in an existential sense, because its time horizon is so short. Our material well-being, our health, our reputation, even our lives, can be overturned in moment by a lost job, a hurricane, a diagnosis, a lawsuit, a vengeful social media attack, or a speeding dump truck. And while data for historical comparison are hard to come by, the incidence of depression, loneliness and suicide is high and rising in the world today.

Few, if any, religions provide as much information, from as many sources, regarding the afterlife as does Mormon theology. For anyone with an open-minded interest in the possibility of life after death, affirmations from four separate books of historical and modern scripture, fervent testimonies of modern day prophets, and countless stories from family histories and contemporary accounts among the Saints cannot help but provide food for thought, if not the seeds of hope and faith. Moreover, the picture of the afterlife revealed by Church teaching and testimonies is relatively detailed and wonderfully comforting and reassuring. We will see our loved ones again. We will be made whole. We will enjoy both justice and mercy. We will be happy.

Even in this life, the Church offers a lot of hope of the short-term kind. The Church organization of bishops’ storehouses, social and counseling services, job placement assistance, and home and visiting teaching, and the community of Saints, provide tangible help and hope when life happens. Not to mention the spiritual comfort that believing Saints can tap into through individual prayer and blessings.

Naturally, most of the hope that the Church and its teachings can provide is contingent on some level of faith and commitment. But that does not change the fact that in a world where hope for so many is in short supply, where hopelessness for almost anyone is so easily stumbled into, and where humans continue to yearn for an identity that is more than a bunch of chemical interactions brought together by random chance, the Church and its offers of hope shine like a beacon.

Development. There are religions in the world that aspire to a monastic separation from the world, where an individual ultimately progresses by inner devotions with little connection to other people. There are animal rights advocates--modern-day Taoists--who believe that it is wrong for humans to infringe on the natural world. There are those who seek to fix their societies in a past time, believing that modernity is to be shunned. For better or worse, the Church is not like these, but is “full in” with the use of all resources, especially new technologies, to make the world a better place. And consistent with a rapidly developing world and continuing revelation, the Church’s efforts are changing and increasing.

The Church, understandably, focuses mainly on its core expertise, the spiritual development of the sons and daughters of God, where it is best positioned to make its greatest contribution. As David O. McKay said, in the language of the time, the purpose of the Church is to “make bad men good and good men better.”

However, Church efforts do extend outside the spiritual realm. Regardless of what one might think of what goes on inside LDS chapels and temples, one must admit that the grounds outside are generally quite pretty. LDS facilities visually enhance their communities. Perhaps this is a small thing, but it does reflect consistency in our regard for beauty, inside and outside, without being ostentatious.

In fact, the Church spends a lot of time and resources to make the world a better place. Often working in tandem with other organizations, such as Catholic Charities, the Church has a long history of charitable giving. And charitable service, such as the Helping Hands program, is getting considerable emphasis. The willingness of church members to spring into action after natural disasters has drawn a lot of media attention in recent years—the thousands of members from neighboring states who volunteered to “de-muck” homes of members and non-members alike after the flooding in Louisiana is only the most recent example. Effective charitable giving is not really that easy to do—it is not clear to me that what Syrian refugees need most are the quilts and toothbrushes that our ward is preparing to send them—but the Church works hard to find niches where it can make a difference. Wheelchair donations, digging rural village wells, and providing neo-natal care are three areas where I have seen the Church be particularly effective overseas. All LDS missionaries have charitable service built-in to their routines, and Charitable Service missionaries do charity work full-time. Welfare Square is widely renowned for its model stressing the dignity of work even as the needs of people who cannot work are also met. Charitable giving for all members, in tithing and fast offerings, is a fundamental part of Church membership and develops the soul.

The development of people gets top priority. Education has always been valued among the Saints. The Church’s universities serve several purposes, but providing top-level curricula and facilities reflects the respect that Mormons have for the world’s professions. The grassroots functioning of the Church requires literacy; the rotation of opportunities to serve in a lay ministry is predicated upon members having the needed skill sets. In addition to (sometimes seemingly endless!) training programs, chapels worldwide have long been venues for language classes, and there is a new effort to utilize chapels for a wide range of non-religious education efforts. For example, new programs in peer-counseling to support self-reliance help to create sustainable employment opportunities. Public speaking skills, gained from a very early age among active members, boost confidence. Church meetings provide a life-long venue for the development and practice of musical skills. The Perpetual Education Fund is a remarkable, ultimately self-sustaining, program that enables advanced education and family-supporting vocational skills to expanding thousands of members in developing countries. A fundamental LDS teaching undergirds all these efforts: All honest labor is noble. And because of the education, industry and discipline that members gain in the Church, members of LDS congregations around the world tend to be more productive than their peers outside the Church.

Civility. I smiled when a friend of mine in Washington, D.C., whose lifestyle and values would put him in contrast with most Mormons, commented on a recent trip he had taken through Utah. “The people are so nice!” I know there are exceptions, when members of the Church have been unkind or thoughtless or ideological, but I think they are exceptions. Generally, Mormons treat other people as brothers and sisters, willing to trust and forgive, imbued with the optimism that comes from being rooted in hope for the future. We believe in being nice!

Almost without realizing it, Mormons teach themselves civility by attending church. The geographical delineation of ward units causes us to associate with people we might not otherwise choose as friends, and we learn to get along. It is very different from the practice where a church-going family new to town might visit different congregations until they find where they feel most comfortable. We learn to be patient in fast and testimony meetings when speakers say things that are, well, off the mark. We learn to buoy up and strengthen each other, and the constant practice of being nice would help refine anyone’s character.

Although many Mormons have strong political views, our church meetings are strikingly apolitical. When members do speak in public venues and with those holding different political views, President Hinckley counseled us that if we must disagree, we should do so without being disagreeable. There has to be room for different views.   It would be a dull world if everyone saw everything the same way. The tens of thousands of missionaries who return home annually certainly have had to learn how to cope with disagreement, shunning and rejection and come away smiling.

One of the most oft-quoted scriptures is from Doctrine and Covenants 121, which makes clear that we are to seek to influence others only by persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, kindness and love unfeigned. That counsel is a blessing for the rest of the world as well.

The Church, of course, does not have a monopoly on any of these virtues. Some people may practice them better than we do. As Mormons strive, however imperfectly, to live up to the teachings of the gospel and their ideals, even a modicum of the tolerance that Church critics generally extend to those who disagree with the Church should allow for cutting the LDS Church some slack. Even if the gospel message of the Restoration is not wholly believed, the Church should be given credit as a force for good that the world could surely use. And that is something to be proud of.

About Robert D. Griffiths  

Recently retired as a Senior U.S. Foreign Service Officer, rank of Minister Counselor, Mr. Griffiths is currently an instructor in Chinese politics at the University of Utah and at BYU.  He previously taught economics and Chinese studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.  As part of his 34-year career with the State Department, he lived and worked in greater China for 14 years, most recently as U.S. Consul General in Shanghai (2011-14).  Previous postings abroad included Beijing, Bangkok, Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Bogota.  He served in the U.S. Senate for a year as foreign policy advisor to Harry Reid, (D-NV), and worked in the Asia Policy shop in the office of the Secretary of Defense.  He has a B.A. in Asian Studies (summa cum laude) from BYU, and a master’s degree in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.  He has spoken frequently at universities in the U.S., China and Thailand, and been interviewed on National Public Radio and other programs both in the U.S. and abroad.  He has lived in or visited 35 countries on every continent and speaks Chinese and Thai.  He is married to Jeanne Decker Griffiths and they have three grown children.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Uto-Aztecan and Its Connection to Near Eastern Languages, Part 3: The Egyptian Infusion, Plus the Explanatory Power of Stubbs' Framework

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we introduced examples of cognates characteristic of two Semitic infusions into Uto-Aztecan, named by Stubbs as the Semitic-p and Semitic-kw infusions, which could correspond well with the infusions of Semitic language from the Nephites and later from the Mulekites into the Americas. These two groups existed for several centuries in different environments, presumably interacting with different peoples and languages, before merging into Nephite society. Finding significant elements of two distinct Semitic infusions is truly fascinating, both from a purely academic perspective but especially for students of the Book of Mormon.

Things get especially interesting, in my opinion, when we look at one further streak of Near Eastern linguistic influence in the Uto-Aztecan language family. Stubbs has identified over 400 cognates with Egyptian, far beyond the level of cognates often used to establish linguistic connections among New World languages. A remarkable phenomenon is that the Egyptian cognates generally have the same sound correspondences as the Semitic-p data, such as b > p, etc. The Egyptian infusion is not as strong as the two Semitic infusions, but on its own still exceeds the threshold in terms of number of cognates that are required to establish a language family. If this came from Lehi's group and the early Nephites, it would suggest that their spoken language was influenced by both Semitic (a flavor of Hebrew in particular) and Egyptian, possibly from the influence of the brass plates.

Stubbs leads the Egyptian discussion in Changes in Languages with the observation that -i, the old perfective/stative verb suffix in Egyptian corresponds with -i in UA, which is the intransitive/past/passive/stative verb suffix. Further, “the stative of Old Egyptian 3rd person verbs ended with -i and perfectly matches UA *-a/-i ‘alternation on the end of verbs, i.e., UA *-a ‘transitive, active’ and *-I ‘intransitive, passive, stative’ (Stubbs, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now, 104). Further, Egyptian’s -w / -iw ‘passive verb suffix’ appears to be reflected well in UA -wa / -iwa, a ‘passive verb suffix’ (ibid., 105). But generally, the grammar of both Egyptian and Semitic is much different than that of UA.

A few examples of Egyptian cognates follow, taken from Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now, pp. 104–106:

(115) sbk / *subak ‘crocodile’ > UA *supak / *sipak
‘crocodile’ (b > p)

(124) tks ‘pierce’ > UA *tïkso ‘pierce, poke’

(125) km ‘black’ > UA *koma ‘dark, gray, brown, black’

(126) nmi ‘travel, traverse’ > UA *nïmi ‘walk around’

(129) wnš, pl wnšiw ‘jackal’ > UA *wancio / woncia
‘fox’ (-ns- > -nc- as in sense/cents)

(131) šm ‘go, walk, leave’ > UA *sima ‘go, leave’

(219) iqr ‘skillful, excellent, capable, intelligent’
> UA *yikar ‘knowing, intelligent, able, good’

The subak/supak cognate between Egyptian and Nahuatl was actually noted by Cyrus Gordon before Stubbs completed his work. As Stubbs puts it, “I merely added another 400 Egyptian-with-UA similarities to what he started” (Brian Stubbs, “Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now,” FAIRMormon Conference presentation, Aug. 2016). As seen in the subak/supak example above, the Egyptian infusion is like Semitic-p in the way b becomes p in UA. Several examples include:

(132) sbq ‘calf of leg’ > UA *sipika ‘lower leg’ (b > p)

(133) sbty ‘enclosure’ > UA *sapti ‘fence of branches’

(134) qbb ‘cool; calm, quiet, cool breeze’ > UA *koppa ‘quiet, calm’

(137) bbyt ‘region of throat’ > UA *papi ‘larynx, throat, voice’

(138) bši ‘spit, vomit’, bšw ‘vomit, vomiting’ > UA *piso-(ta) ‘vomit’

(139) bnty ‘breast’ > UA *pitti / *piCti ‘breast’

(141) bit ‘bee’ > UA *pitV > *picV ‘bee, wasp’

(142) bik ‘falcon’ > UA *pik ‘hawk species’

(154) sb’ ‘star’ > UA *sipo’ > *si’po ‘star’

Also following a trend in the Semitic-p data, Egyptian x > UA *k, as in:

(170) txi ‘be drunk, drink deep’, txw ‘drunkard’ > UA *tïku ‘drunk’
(294) xpš ‘foreleg, thigh’ > UA *kapsi ‘thigh’
(295) xpd ‘buttock’ > UA *kupta ‘buttocks’
(295) xpdw ‘buttocks’ > UA *kupitu ‘buttocks’…
(452) xt ‘fire, heat’ > UA *kut ‘fire’

The Egyptian infusion also demonstrates other sound changes found in the Semitic-p infusion, including “Egyptian glottal stop ’ > w, or glottal stop next to round vowels (o, u),” for which many examples are given, and “Egyptian initial pharyngeal ђ > UA *hu, and non-initially ђ > w/o/u.” Among the many examples of the latter, two should suffice:

(181) ђnqt ‘beer, drinkers’ > UA *hunaka ‘drunk, alcohol’

(182) ђtp / hotpe ‘be gracious, peaceable, set (sun), bury’
> UA *huppi ‘peaceable, go down, sink, dive’

UA *huppi is related to the Hopi tribal name, meaning “peace.” Stubbs discusses this word in a section on sound clusters and their behavior on sound change patterns. Sound clusters often lose some of the original sounds, just as the -ght- in “daughter” and “night” has become merely -t- as pronounced in English . A sound cluster can also preserve a sound that otherwise would have changed. For example:
[M]any UA languages have intervocalic *-p- > -v-. That happens in Hopi, the Numic languages, and others. So when we see a -p- between vowels, it is due to an underlying consonant cluster being reduced to -p-, but showing -p- (instead of -v-) because of -Cp- or the cluster strengthening the -p-: [thus] Egyptian ђotpe ‘peace’ > UA *hoppi > Hopi hopi ‘peace, peaceable’; otherwise, *hopi > hovi (Stubbs, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now, 55–56).
Stubbs also notes that Egyptian d corresponds to Semitic ṣ, so there are many examples of Egyptian d > UA *s, just as Semitic ṣ > UA *s in the Semitic infusions. A few of many examples include:

(200) dbt / *dubat ‘brick, adobe brick’ > UA *supa ‘adobe’
(199) db’ ‘to clothe, garment, clothing’ > UA *sipu’ > *si’pu ‘slip, skirt, shirt, clothing’…
(197) dʕb ‘coal-black’, dʕbt ‘charcoal’ > UA *so’opa ‘black, dark’
(194) d’i ‘pierce, transfix’ > UA *so’a/*so’i ‘pierce, sew, shoot arrow’
(390) dwt ‘mosquito, gnat’ > UA *suti ‘mosquito, gnat’ (Stubbs, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now, 108.)

Egyptian initial r- > UA t-, though the Tarahumara (TR) language retains r-. Thus, for example, Egyptian rmt “man, person” > UA *tïmati “young man” but TR ŕemarí (ibid.).  The behavior of Tarahumara in this aspect is one of several puzzles in UA studies that Stubbs’ work helps resolve. The puzzle, discussed in detail in Exploring the Explanatory Power, is that the initial t in Proto-UA was retained in all UA languages except Tarahumara (TR), where it become initial r; i.e., PUA *t- > UA t- but TR ŕ-, yet surprisingly, TR also retains initial t in many words. Stubbs states that this is explained by Egyptian and Semitic t and d sounds being retained as t in TR, while initial r in Egyptian and Semitic are retained as r in TR, while Egyptian and Semitic r > t in the other UA languages.

Of the 40 TR words with initial r- or t- having cognates with Near Eastern languages, 37 (93%) follow the pattern that TR initial r- corresponds to Semitic or Egyptian initial r, while an initial t- corresponds to Semitic or Egyptian initial t or d sounds: t, t, or d in Hebrew or t, d, or ṭ in Egyptian (Stubbs, Exploring the Explanatory Power of Semitic and Egyptian in Uto-Aztecan, 303). The 93% correlation is meaningful if the identification of cognates was done by considering TR initial t as possibly coming from either initial t- or r- in Near Eastern languages, which appears to be the case, otherwise possible Near Eastern cognates that underwent the r- > t- sound change would have been excluded and the (already high) number of cognates under consideration would have been reduced in a way that would skew the numbers. The resolution of this puzzle is one of many subtle indicators that Stubbs’ work is not an artifact chance alone and does indeed provide explanatory power.

In addition to resolving the puzzle of initial t- in Tarahumara, there are six other technical and fascinating UA puzzles that Stubbs’ work clarifies, treated in Chapter 6 of Exploring the Explanatory Power.

Stubbs argues that “the language of the Egyptians” spoken of by Nephi in 1 Nephi 1:2 “means the language of the Egyptians and that the learning of the Jews means the education Lehi received in the Jerusalem environment for writing Hebrew (or Aramaic) in the Phoenician alphabet, and that Lehi, Nephi, and later record keepers to varying degrees (lesser degrees later) knew both Hebrew and Egyptian” (Stubbs, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now, 86).

In Changes in Languages, Stubbs provides 100 cognates with Egyptian, a small fraction of his total but enough, as with the Semitic cognates, to be startling and often impressive. The relationship between Egyptian stative/passive features and Uto-Aztecan was particularly surprising and nicely documented (ibid., 64–65).

An Example of Explanatory Power: The Lamanite Term Rabbanah


Stubbs’ framework also helps resolve questions about a rare glimpse at a Lamanite term in the Book of Mormon record, where a Lamanite servant after Ammon’s miraculously victory at the Waters of Sebus addresses him with the honorific title Rabbanah. Stubbs adds this insight:

Returning to Rabbanah, the final -anah may be entirely different than any of us are guessing, possibly an unknown suffix from a deceased Native American language. However, in agreement with [the Book of Mormon Onomasticon at] https://onoma.lib.byu.edu, I think it more probable that Rabbaan- has the Semitic noun suffix -aan (Book of Mormon orthography does not distinguish long and short vowels). As mentioned in the Onomasticon, -aan (in Aramaic and Arabic) is cognate with Hebrew -oon due to the Canaanite vowel shift of long aa > oo. LDS scholars have tended to contort explanations for Aramaic in Lehi lingo, because the assumption has been that the Lehi-Ishmael party spoke Hebrew, not Aramaic, which I assumed also, until after I found UA suggesting much Aramaic, and after I found renowned Semitists also suggesting a continued Aramaic substrate among northern Israel’s areas…. Nevertheless, UA shows both -aan in some terms and -oon in other terms (though Hebrew also has some -aan terms among the more frequent -oon), and the UA -aan / -oon mix is consistent with what we see as Lehi’s Semitic being a heavy Aramaic-Hebrew mix. The New Testament Rabboni ‘my master’ (John 20:16) has the same Semitic stem rabb- with the Hebrew suffix -oon and -i ‘my’. Yet interestingly this Lamanite term has the -aan suffix like Aramaic and Arabic, not the -oon more common in Hebrew, because the Lamaniyyiim would be continuing the spoken language of the Lehi-Ishmael party, without access to the records containing Egyptian and Hebrew writing and vocabulary. In other words, the evidence in UA would suggest that the Lamanite languages would probably have had more Aramaic and less Hebrew and Egyptian than the Nephite languages had, and Rabbanah is consistent with that….

After the -aan, the Onomasticon suggests a feminine abstract noun ending -aa. Possibly. However, more likely in my mind is a continuation with Aramaic morphology in the suffix -aa ‘the’. In some Syriac / Aramaic dialects, the suffix -aa ‘the’ becomes part of the citation form or part of the noun, similar to English ‘the horse’ to mean ‘horse’, and to Aramaic reemaan-aa ‘antelope-the’ > UA *tïmïna ‘antelope’. Similarly, Aramaic Rabbaan-aa ‘great one-the’ or ‘great one’, consistently Aramaic throughout all 3 morphemes, seems at least as viable as other proposals, if not more so (Stubbs, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now, 142–143).

This is one of many tentative insights that Stubbs offers from his analysis. There may be many more to consider in the future.

Broad Explanatory Power

It is the explanatory power of Stubbs’ work that most clearly points to the value of his find. This is not just a zealous hodge-podge of rather meaningless random parallels like, say, the parallels often collected through the passionate work of some Book of Mormon critics whose theories of plagiarism and borrowing fail to provide any explanatory power for Book of Mormon origins and leave the strengths of the Book of Mormon untouched or even ironically amplified. The parallels between Semitic languages and UA identified by Stubbs follow demanding methodologies and show consistent, plausible sound changes that not only provide large groupings of related words, but also help explain some previous puzzles in UA, including:

  • The phonology of medial (middle) consonant clusters, a topic that Stubbs describes as a huge problem in UA, is clarified by considering the influence of Semitic and Egyptian on the effect of adjacent consonants (see Section 7.2 of Exploring the Explanatory Power, 10).
  • Proto Uto-Aztecan (PUA)’s *p has clear reflexes (sound shifts) in the various UA languages. But five languages (Tarahumara, Mayo, Yaqui, Arizona Yaqui and Eudeve) show both initial b and p corresponding to PUA *p (ibid.). This is generally viewed as an inconsistency, but Stubbs’ work adds a significant insight: “The initial b forms in these languages correspond to Egyptian b or Semitic b of Semitic-p, and the initial p forms in these languages to Semitic/Egyptian p. How can such an alignment be coincidental? For the various UA forms of b vs. p to match Semitic/Egyptian b vs. p is significant” (ibid.). See Section 6.2 of Exploring the Explanatory Power, where numerous examples are analyzed, including the Hebrew word for lightning, baraq, which became *pirok / perok, “lightning,” in UA, while the initial b is preserved as berok- in Mayo (My), be’ok in Yaqui (Yq), or becomes a v in ve’okte of Arizona Yaqi (AYq), viriki-t of TaraCahitan (TBr), and vonaq-q Serrano (Sr). Many more examples are offered. The great majority of these puzzling occurrences of both p- and b-/v- from PUA *p- can now be explained by origins from Near Eastern words with initial p and b.
  • PUA initial t* at the beginning of words corresponds to the initial t in most of the UA languages, with a notable exception of Tarahumara initial r. “So if PUA *t became Tarahumaran r, then where does Tarahumara initial t come from? The data in this work suggest that Semitic/Egyptian initial r became t, so in most UA languages initial r and initial t merged to look like PUA *r, but Tarahumara kept them separate. Thus [Section] 6.1 [of Exploring the Explanatory Power] clarifies the Tarahumara r vs. t puzzle, which see” (ibid., 10).
  • A variety of other issues in sections 6.3 though 6.7 of Exploring the Explanatory Power are also explained by Stubbs’ work.

Many specific puzzles are also explained as an understanding of the Near Eastern roots of UA helps clarify relationships between many of the words in UA languages. For example, Hebrew makteš “mortar, grinding stone” is reflected in *ma’ta of Proto-UA, “mortar, grinding stone.” But in Cahuilla (Ca), the noun-made-verb mataš suggests derivation from a verb that has the geminated *-tt- (< *mattaš) because otherwise a single *-t- will become -l- in Cahuilla. The geminated *-tt- could readily derive from a cluster such as -kt-, and helps explain why the Ca word preserves the -t-. The final š is also more consistent with Hebrew makteš, strengthening the case for Hebrew makteš > PUA *ma’ta (Stubbs, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now, 111. ).

One phenomenon of interest is the occasional existence of two related UA words from related Semitic cognates, one from Semitic-p and one from Semitic-kw. An example is item 617, UA *ti’na ‘mouth’ < Aramaic diqn-aa (Semitic-p), and item 628, UA ca'lo ‘chin’ < Hebrew zaaqn-o ‘chin-his,’ where the Hebrew and Aramaic words are a cognate pair (Stubbs, Exploring the Explanatory Power, 362).This is consistent with two infusions that evolved differently or among different groups of people before being united in some way. Stubbs’ work may help explain the presence of some pairs of similar words in UA.

Impressive Depth

The entries in Exploring the Explanatory Power are far more than the amateur list of stray parallels that some critics are imagining from Stubbs. I’ve been impressed with how consistently deep and expansive Stubbs’ analysis is, though I speak as a non-expert. To let readers judge for themselves, I provide a couple of his 1500 entries.

824 Hebrew hayyownaa / hayyoonat ‘dove’: UA *hayowi ‘dove’.

Note loss of -n- also in Ktn[Kitanemuk] payo' ‘handkerchief’ < Spanish paño; similarly, Sapir claims that single *-n- disappears and only geminated *-nn- survived in SP:

UAcv-696 *hayowi 'dove': M88-h03; KH.NUA; KH/M06-h03: Two languages (Hp, Tb) agree with *howi: HP höwi, pl: höwìit 'dove, mourning dove, white-winged dove'; Tb 'owii-t 'dove'. In contrast, three Numic languages show hewi: Mn heewi' 'mourning dove'; TSh heewi-cci 'dove'; Sh heewi 'dove'. Numic forms showing hewi (Mn, TSh, Sh) leveled the V 's from -ai- / -ay- in *hayowi > heewi, o shortened to be perceived as part of-w-; so as CU 'ayövi and Wc haïmï suggest the first vowel was a. Kw hoyo-vi 'mourning dove'; CU 'ayövi 'dove'; Ch(L) hiyovi; and Sapir's SP iyovi- 'mourning dove' with the final syllable as part of the stem, as in CNum, all show -y-. Kw and CU seem to have reinterpreted the final -vi as an absolutive suffix, but Ch, SP, and CNum suggest otherwise, and we again see -w- > -v- in Num. Most of NUA suggest *hayowi. NP ihobi 'dove' transposed the h.
*hayowi          > hewi (Sh, Mn, TSh)
> hayo            >          'ayö- (CU), iyovi (SP)
> hoyo- (Kw), hiyo(vi) (Ch) > ihobi (NP)
> *howi           > höwi (Hp)
> 'owii-t (Tb)

Only the -n- is missing. Wc haïmï/’áïmï 'dove' and the -howa- of Tr čohówari / čohóbari 'turtle dove' are probably related as well. Wc ï could be a leveling of -yow- (*hayow > haï). TO hoohi 'mourning dove' is probably related in some way, perhaps with preservative consonant harmony (*howi > hoohi), and TO does keep PUA *h sometimes.

[TO keeps *h; wN>m in wc?, -n- > Æ] [1h,2y,3w,4n] [NUA: Num, Hp, Tb; SUA: Tep, TrC, CrC] (Stubbs, Exploring the Explanatory Power, 210)

Having recently discussed the significance of several Hebrew words related to dust-motifs in the Book of Mormon, particularly ’pl related to darkness and obscurity, where an interesting wordplay may occur with the word ’pr meaning “dust” in 2 Nephi 1:23, I wished to look at the details Stubbs had uncovered regarding a relevant term:

871 Hebrew 'pl 'be dark'; Hebrew 'opel 'darkness'; Hebrew 'aapel 'dark'; Hebrew 'apelaa 'darkness'; Arabic 'afala (< *'apala) 'go down, set (of stars)'; like 'set' and 'go down', this Semitic root also means 'be late, in the day or in the season'; a causative Hebrew form in Jastrow's Aramaic(J) is later Hebrew he'epiil 'make dark' with unattested impfv ya'piil (m.) and ta'piil (f.). The unattested huqtal 3rd sg masc and fem passive of the above root would be Hebrew *yu'pal and *tu'pal 'become dark, be gone down (light)' aligning perfectly with UA *yu'pa(l) and *tu'pa(l) in the sets below; in UA *cuppa, the palatalization t- > c- due to the high vowel u, and the cluster doubles the -pp-: Semitic *tu'pal > cuppa:
UAcv-891 *cuppa 'fire go out': M67-171 *cupa 'fire go out'; 236 'go out (of fire)'; M88-cu9; KH/M06-co21:
Tb cupat, ’ucup 'be out (of fire)' ; Tb(H) cuppat 'fire to be out, go out'; Wr co'a 'put out fire'; Wr co'i 'be out (of fire)' ; Tr čo'á-ri- 'have another put out fire’; Tr čo'wi 'dark'; NV tubanu 'bajar de lo alto [go down from high up)'. …

In the following, the semantic tie goes from 'set, go down, end (day)' to 'end (of whatever)':
UA cv-871a *cuCpa/i / *cuppa 'finish, be end of s.th.': I.Num258 *cu/*co 'disappear'; M88-cu1 'finish'; KH/M06-cul: Mn cúppa 'disappear'; NP coppa 's.th. sinking'; My cúppe 'terminarse, vi'; My cúppa 'terminar, vt';
AYq čupa 'finish, complete, fulfill (vow)'; AYq hi(t)čuppa 'completing, fulfilling (vow), harvesting', AYq čupe 'get completed, finished, married, ripe'; AYq čupia 'be complete'; Yq čúpa 'terminar (bien)'; Wr cu'piba-ni 'acabar'; Sr 'ičo'kin 'make, fix, finish'; Wc sïï 'finish'. Note Mn 'disappear' and NP 'sinking' reflect 'sun going down'. The over-lapping semantics (finish/harvest) in Cah (My, AYq) may have us keep in mind *cuppV 'gather, close eyes'. Does Sr ‘ičo-kin 'make, fix, finish' have hi- prefix or is it from Hebrew ya-suup 'come to an end'?

UAcv-871b *copa / *cupa 'braid, finish weaving': Tr čobå/čóba- 'trenzarse, hacerse la trenza', Tb tadzuub 'braid it'; CN copa 'finish weaving/constructing s.th.'; CN copi 'piece of weaving or construction to get finished'…. [NUA: Num, Tak, Tb; SUA: TrC, CrC, Azt] (Stubbs, Exploring the Explanatory Power, 218)

Other groups of UA words related in different ways to Hebrew *yu'pal and *tu'pal include, in the abbreviated format from Changes in Languages:

(872) ’pl / *yu’pal ‘be dark, go down, m’ > UA *yu’pa > *yuppa ‘be dark, black, (fire) go out’

(873) ’pl / *yu’pal ‘be dark, go down, m’ > UA *yu’pa(l) > Aztecan *yowal, CN yowal-li ‘night, n’ (The Aztecan branch regularly loses a single -p-) (Stubbs, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now, 99)

Several other dust-related correspondences from Exploring the Explanatory Power include item 591, Hebrew ’adaama and UA *tïma, “earth”; item 150, Egyptian t’, “earth, land, ground, country,” cf. Coptic to, and UA *tiwa, “sand, dust,” and also UA *to’o, “dust”; item 162 Egyptian šʕy ‘sand’ (Coptic šoo) > UA *siwa(l) ‘sand’; and item 665, Aramaic ђirgaa’, “dust,” and UA *huCkuN (C again means an unknown consonant and N is a nasal sound), “dust.”

The richness of linkages in the vocabulary related to dirt, dust, earth, and sand is reflected in many other areas, ranging from body parts and functions, animals, pronouns, numerous details of daily life, etc.

A Note on Metals

Stubbs’ work touches directly or indirectly upon a variety of Book of Mormon topics such as the issue of metals. Metals are one of the weak spots in the Book of Mormon, for their presence among the early Nephites is said to be an anachronism in the Book of Mormon. Many scholars claim that metals were unknown in Mesoamerica until roughly 900 A.D. In addition to disputing this conclusion on the basis of numerous finds of ancient metals that can push that the date of metal use to much earlier dates, John Sorenson has also appealed to linguistics to show that metals must have been known much earlier. In Mormon’s Codex, for example, Sorenson states that “decisive evidence for the presence of Classic and Pre-Classic metallurgy” can be found in the linguistic data showing “that words for metal or (metal) bell appear in five reconstructed proto-languages of major families in Mesoamerica: Proto-Mayan, Proto-Mixtecan, Proto-Mixe-Zoquean, Proto-Huavean, and Proto-Otomanguean (John L. Sorenson, Mormon's Codex (Provo: Neal A. Maxwell Institute, 2013), 331–5. See also John L. Sorenson, “An Open Letter to Dr. Michael Coe,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 1 (2012): 91–109; http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/an-open-letter-to-dr-michael-coe/).


Since Huastecan split from the main Mayan group by 2000 BV and both have words for metal, knowledge of metals must have been very ancient. Data from Proto-Mixtecan also supports a date of 1000 BC or earlier for a word for metal (Sorenson, Mormon's Codex, 331–2). Interestingly, Sorenson then points to an early speculation from Hyacinthe de Charency who suggested that the Mayan term nab (gold) is related to Egyptian nb or nbw (or noub) (Hyacinthe de Charency, “Les noms des metaux chez differents peuples de la Novelle Espange,” Proceedings of the 8th International Congress of Americanits (Paris, 1890; rept. Nendeln, Leichenstein: Draus, 1968), 536–47, as cited by Sorenson, ibid., 343.). Though uncertain of the merit in that proposal, Sorenson also notes that Yucatec Mayan tau or taau (lead or tin, but literally “moon excrement”) may relate to Arabic taws (moon), and wonders if Zoquean hama-tin (gold, silver) might relate to Egyptian hmty (copper), or if Zoquean ?anak (lead, tin) could be connected to Akkadian (Babylonian) annakum (tin) (Sorenson, Mormon's Codex, 343). He calls for further study on this issue, and I would concur.

Stubbs pays little attention to the issue of metals, but some linguistic hints appear in the data. In Exploring the Explanatory Power, item 465 looks at ties to the Egyptian word meaning metal, ore, or iron, as well as sky (the place where [meteoric] iron comes from), though the linkage may point to flint knives. More relevant is item 466, where Egyptian nm, “knife,” and p’-nm, “the knife,” may relate to UA *panomi, “knife, iron, tool,” which undergoes a *p > v/w shift in several UA languages to give words meaning “iron, tool,” “metal, money,” or “knife, metal.

Item 98 brings a Hebrew connection: Hebrew rqʕ ‘stamp, beat out (metal), spread out’; Hebrew raaqiiaʕ ‘extended surface, expanse, sky’ > UA *tukuN- in * tukuN-pa ‘sky’ and ‘metal’. The analysis in Exploring the Explanatory Power has nearly a full page on this connection. “Of interest is that Hebrew *raqiiʕ literally means ‘beat broad or flat,” used in beating metal flat, but also means sky, as a broad expanse, and the Ca [Cahuilla], Cp [Cupeño], Sr [Serrano], and La forms all mean both ‘sky’ and ‘iron/knife’” (tubbs, Exploring the Explanatory Power of Semitic and Egyptian in Uto-Aztecan, 83). A related word in Kw (Kawaiisu) means “pounded metal” (Jane Wheeler Pires-Ferreira and Billy Joe Evans, “Mössbauer Spectral Analyisis of Olmec Iron Ore Mirrors: New Evidence of Formative Period Exchange Networks in Mesoamerica,” in Cultural Continuity in Mesoamerica, ed. David L. Browman (Chiacago: Aldine / Mouton Publishers, 1978), 101–154). Such words need not imply that metallurgy was known, but could point to ancient work with iron ore, a material treasured by the Olmecs (ibid.). The apparent sky/metal correspondences in the Old and New Worlds are worth further exploration.

With further work, perhaps the UA language family might be added to the five Mesoamerican language families Sorenson has listed providing linguistic evidence of an early knowledge of metals in the Americas.


Conclusion

Overall, these two new works are impressive contributions not just to the study of language in the Americas but also to the study of the Book of Mormon. In terms of Book of Mormon evidence, what Stubbs has begun here may be one of the most significant advances in our ability to relate the Book of Mormon to New World data. Stubbs conclusions were driven by data and unexpected discoveries, not by a desire to prove anything or see something that isn’t really there. It can only be hoped that others will consider the data as well and the impressive case it makes for Old World infusions into the New.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Uto-Aztecan and Its Connection to Near Eastern Languages, Part 2: Evidence of a Second Semitic Infusion

In yesterday's post, "Uto-Aztecan and Its Connection to Near Eastern Languages, Part 1: A Credible Proposal from Brian Stubbs?," I shared examples of cognates that follow a consistent set of sound changes from Semitic, including the change of b into Uto-Aztecan p. Stubbs assigns that group of cognates to the "Semitic-p" infusion. As we'll see in a subsequent post, the sound changes of that group also follow the sound changes seen in a another set of cognates with the Egyptian language. But there is another group of Semitic cognates which follow somewhat different sound changes, most notably the change of Semitic b to kw in Uto-Aztecan. That's my subject for today.

The Semitic-kw Infusion

The data for the Semitic-kw infusion were noticed by Stubbs first as he became curious about the possibility of a Near Eastern connection to UA. The Semitic-p cognates appeared to be exceptions to what he was finding from Semitic-kw, so he overlooked their significance for years until he later noticed Egyptian cognates showing similar sound changes to the Semitic-p “exceptions.” At that point, he realized that there could have been two separate Semitic infusions with different sound changes due to contact with different peoples or being in a different environment.  That was when the current hypotheses came together.

Stubbs sees the Semitic-kw infusion as evidence for the Mulekite’s migration to the Americas and their later merger with the Nephite people. This infusion is suggestive of a Phoenician-like Semitic in which Semitic b > UA *kw (that is, Semitic b became UA *kw). There are other sound logical sound changes for this set of cognates. The change of -r- > -y- is consistent with changes seen in other languages. In contrast to the data from Semitic-p where a final -r causes no vowel change, “the final -r of Semitic-kw causes the last vowel to rise and front to -i or -y.” Further, the voiced pharyngeal ʕ > w/o/u consistently. Some examples follow:

(4) Hebrew baašel ‘boiled, cook, ripen’ > UA *kwasïC ‘cook, ripen’

(5) Hebrew bááśaar ‘flesh, penis’ > UA *kwasi ‘tail, penis, flesh’ (r > y/i)

(6) Hebrew baalaʕ ‘swallow’ > UA *kwïluC ‘swallow’

 (7) Semitic *bahamat ‘back’ > UA *kwahami ‘back’

(24) bky / bakaay ‘cry’ > UA *kwïkï ‘cry’

(19) barr- ‘land (as opposed to sea)’ > UA *kwiya / *kwira ‘earth’ (r > y/i)

(27) brm ‘worn out, weary, bored with’ > UA *kwiyam ‘be lazy, do lackadaisically’ (r > y/i)

(1457) Arabic ṣabba ‘pour, drip, overflow’ > UA *cikwa ‘rain’

(11) Hebrew -dabber ‘speak’ > UA *tïkwi ‘say, talk, speak’ (r > y/i)

(26) Hebrew bεn ‘son’; pl: bəneey ‘children (of)’ > Nahuatl *konee ‘child, offspring’   (bǝ/bV > kwV > ko)…

 (88) ʕalaqat ‘leech’, ʕlq ‘stick, adhere’, > UA *walaka ‘snail’ (of similar slimy adhering texture)

(89) śeeʕaar ‘hair’; Arabic šaʕr / šaʕar ‘hair’ > UA *suwi ‘body hair’ (-r- > y/i)

(92) yáʕar ‘wood, forest, thicket’ > UA *yuwi / yuyi ‘evergreen species’ (-r- > y/i)…

(78) Hebrew ђeṣ ‘arrow’ > UA *huc ‘arrow’

(79) Hebrew ђmr ‘cover with, smear on’ > UA *humay ‘smear, spread, rub, paint’ (r > y/i)

While the glottal stop is often rounded in the Semitic-p data, the Semitic-kw glottal stop is not rounded. Further, it is often lost, as in these examples:

(991) Hebrew ni-qra’ ‘he/it is called/named’ > UA *nihya ‘call, name’

(1214) Hebrew mee-’ayn ‘from where?’ > Tb maa’ayn ‘where from’

In contrast to Semitic-p where doubled *-bb- > UA *-pp-, Semitic-kw data shows doubled *-bb- > UA *-kw-, similar to Semitic b > UA *kw, as in:

(1457) Arabic ṣabba ‘pour, drip, overflow’ > UA *cikwa ‘rain’

(11) Hebrew -dabber ‘speak’ > UA *tïkwi ‘say, talk, speak’

An interesting correspondence with -bb- > -kw- is Hebrew ṣaab, “lizard,” cognate with Arabic ḍabba, “cleave to the ground, take hold, keep under lock.” With Semitic -bb- > UA -kw-, these may correspond with UA cawka that can also mean “grasp, lock, lizard.” 

In reading Stubbs, the proposed change of b to kw initially seemed puzzling. The idea of b becoming p seemed natural enough, but as a non-linguist, a relationship between b and kw struck me as odd. I initially wondered if this might be an implausible sound change that shows more about creative cherry picking or the Texas Sharp Shooter fallacy  than a legitimate linguistic possibility. I think linguists may more readily appreciate the plausibility of such a sound shift since similar relationships are found in other languages and there are linguistic reasons for the relationship between the stops p, b, and kw (see “Labialized Velar Consonant,” Wikipedia).  Stubbs does mention that b > kw proposed for UA is like the relationship between p in Greek and kw in Latin, but this comes in Chapter 8 long after the Semitic-kw hypothesis has been introduced (Stubbs, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now, 114).  Further discussion and illustration from other languages would be helpful For example, the kw sound of quattro, the number four in Italian, corresponds to the p of patru (four) in Romanian.  Other relationships between p and kw are found in a few Indo-European languages  and even in some Native American languages,  and given the closeness of p and b, to me this strengthens the case for the possibility of Semitic b > UA kw.


A few resources relevant to kw-related sound changes:
  • Henry M. Hoenigswald, “Criteria for the Subgrouping of Languages,” in Ancient Indo-European Dialects: Proceedings of the Conference on Indo-European Linguistics, Held at the University of California, Los Angeles, April 25–27, 1963, ed. Henrik Birnbaum and Jaan Puhvel (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1966), 1–12; see particularly 7; https://books.google.com/books?id=5pCBRsfJMv8C&pg=PA7.
  • In that volume also see Calvert Watkins, “Italo-Celtic Revisited,” in Ancient Indo-European Dialects, ed. Birnbaum and Puhvel, 29–50; see particularly 33, 34; https://books.google.com/books?id=5pCBRsfJMv8C&pg=PA33.
  • A discussion of the transition of a specific form of p–kw sound changes in several languages, namely *p … kw > *kw … kw, is in L. Nakhleh, “Coding of the phonological characters in the datasets (PDF),” CPHL Project (Computational Phylogenetics in Historical Linguistics), Rice University, July 2007; project page at http://www.cs.rice.edu/~nakhleh/CPHL, PDF file at http://www.cs.rice.edu/~nakhleh/CPHL/code-p-07.pdf. 
  • Further, see Domenico Pezzi, Aryan Philology According to the Most Recent Researches (Glottologia Aria Recentissima), transl. E.S. Roberts (London, Trübner & Company, 1879), 13, 18; https://books.google.com/books?id=wF0MAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA13. See also the discussion of Fick’s hypothesis at 11 regarding two k sounds in PIE, one of which became p in some languages and the other becoming c, with an intermediate sound in some languages similar to kv, which would could be the source for kw in Fick’s view. 
  • On the shift involving p and kw in Irish and Celtic, see Peter Schrijver, Language Contact and the Origins of the Germanic Languages (New York and London: Routledge, 2014), 80–82; https://books.google.com/books?id=MUVJAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA80

Further, in an early publication comparing the vocabularies among several UA languages, B.L. Whorf notes that the kw of PUA, while preserved as a kw in four UA languages, corresponds to b in two languages, Tepecano and Papago.  See B. L. Whorf, "The Comparative Linguistics of Uto-Aztecan,” American Anthropologist, 37/4 (Oct.–Dec., 1935): 600-608, citation at 607; http://www.jstor.org/stable/662643. This seems consistent with Stubbs’ hypothesis, wherein Semitic b was preserved in some cases but became kw or p in other cases. In any case, Whorf provides another example of a relationship between kw and b that strengthens the plausibility of the Semitic-kw hypothesis. (Whorf’s paper, by the way, mentions many words that are treated by Stubbs in Exploring the Explanatory power.) Perhaps Stubbs’ future works for general LDS audiences might include some related examples to help readers better appreciate the plausibility of his argument. In fact, Stubbs himself has already published an entire article (peer reviewed) dealing with the relationship between kw and b in the Uto-Aztecan family, which could be valuable to mention after introducing the Semitic-kw hypothesis. See Brian D. Stubbs, “The Labial Labyrinth in Uto-Aztecan,” International Journal of American Linguistics, 61/4 (Oct. 1995): 396–422; http://www.jstor.org/stable/1265830.

There are many more examples and details in Stubbs’ work from a number of perspectives that strengthen the case for Semitic infusion, whether of the p or kw variety. The parallels between Semitic pronouns and UA pronouns, for example, seem particularly noteworthy (see Stubbs, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now, 68–69).  There are approximately 1100 Semitic cognates, an overwhelming quantity. Some are easy-to-recognize matches, while others may be more of a stretch but still plausible, such as:

(724) Semitic parʕoš ‘flea (jumper)’ (from the Semitic verb prʕš ‘jump’) > UA *par’osi / *paro’osi ‘jackrabbit’; the jackrabbit, like the flea, is also a jumper, and in UA *paro’osi ‘jackrabbit’ we see all 4 consonants and 2 identical vowels in two of the most extraordinary jumpers of the animal kingdom.

A final example from the Semitic-kw data:
(853) Arabic xunpusaa’ / xunpus ‘beetle’; Aramaic ђippuušiit ‘beetle, n.f.’ > UA *wippusi ‘stink beetle’.… Arabic xunpus shows that Semitic *x was the original consonant, and Aramaic ђippuušiit reflects the Northwest Semitic merger (*x and *ђ > ђ). So UA *wippusi shows Phoenician/Mulekite ђ > UA w, and UA also shows the doubled *-pp- and the exact vowels of Aramaic. An amazing match! (Changes in Languages, 124)
Indeed, there are numerous amazing matches in the body of data Stubbs has provided.

Next up: The Egyptian infusion. 




Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Uto-Aztecan and Its Connection to Near Eastern Languages, Part 1: A Credible Proposal from Brian Stubbs?

In a previous post, "Bigger Than Nahom?," I mentioned that the "next big thing" in LDS apologetics could well be the thoroughly documented discovery of Brian D. Stubbs that there is a significant amount of Semitic and Egyptian influence in the Uto-Aztecan language family. Stubbs' work is provided in two recent books, one for LDS audiences and one for linguists. They are, respectively, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now (Blanding, UT: Four Corners Digital Design, 2016) and Exploring the Explanatory Power of Semitic and Egyptian in Uto-Aztecan (Provo, UT: Grover Publications, 2015).

Is Stubbs' Work Credible?

Brian Stubbs is a linguist whose credential and skills cannot be lightly dismissed. He is among a handful of specialists in Uto-Aztecan who has published significant works in the field (e.g., Brian D. Stubbs, “More Palatable Reconstructions for Uto-Aztecan Palatals,” International Journal of American Linguistics 66/1 (Jan. 2000): 125-137)  that appear to have been well received among linguists,  particularly his significant scholarly work, Uto-Aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary (Blanding, UT: Rocky Mountain Books and Publications, 2011),  with over 400 pages of analysis exploring 2700 cognate sets among the Uto-Aztecan languages. In his review of Stubbs’ work for the International Journal of American Linguistics, fellow Uto-Aztecan specialist Kenneth C. Hill described it as “a monumental contribution, raising comparative UA to a new level” (see Kenneth C. Hill, “Uto-aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary by Stubbs,” International Journal of American Linguistics 78/4 (October 2012): 591-592). 

Stubbs earned an M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Utah and completed coursework and comprehensive exams (ABD) toward a Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages and linguistics at the University of Utah. He has studied Hebrew, Arabic, Egyptian, Aramaic and many Native American languages. While he does not have a Ph.D., he is among key publishers of articles on the Uto-Aztecan language family in linguistic journals. His book Uto-Aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary is the largest in the field, doubling the size of previous works on comparative Uto-Aztecan studies. He recently retired from teaching at the College of Eastern Utah.

The “elephant in the room” for critics, at least, is why this recent work linking the Near East and the New World has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Based on personal correspondence with Brian Stubbs, peer-review is his goal. His work, inherently controversial since it clearly supports Book of Mormon claims, has been sent to his fellow Uto-Aztecan specialists, with no public but several private comments so far, and eventually will be ready for the challenges and pains of the peer review process, but this takes time and faces some practical and political considerations.

One must recognize that this work is highly controversial and easy to dismiss without serious consideration, based not just on its ties to the Book of Mormon but also on the centuries of past abuse from amateurs claiming linguistic connection between Native American languages and Hebrew. This abuse is reflected in a statement on the Native American Languages (Native-languages.org) website:

Q: Are Amerindian languages descended from Hebrew, Ancient Egyptian, Scandinavian or Celtic languages?
A: No. The people who claim this are trying to prove that American Indians arrived in the Americas very recently…. I have seen many websites claiming to "prove" that Amerindian languages are descended from Semitic or Germanic languages. 90% of these websites are deliberately lying, making up nonexistant "Algonquian" words that resemble words from Semitic languages. A quick glance at a dictionary of the Amerindian language in question will reveal these websites for what they are. The other 10% are using linguistically unsound methods--searching two languages for any two vocabulary words that begin with the same letter, essentially, and presenting them as evidence. Using this method, English can be "proved" to descend from Japanese--English "mistake" sounds a little like Japanese "machigai". In fact, if you randomly generate some vocabulary with a computer program, you will be able to find a few words with surface resemblance to any language you want. Real linguistic analysis requires dozens of vocabulary relationships which are regular and predictable, as well as similarities in phonology and syntax, to show that one language is related to another…. No linguist has ever shown a relationship between any Amerindian language family and a Semitic, Germanic or Celtic language.
Naturally, with or without a favorable review from other scholars, the critics will have plenty of opportunities to cry foul. Already critics have dismissed his work by mischaracterizing it as merely compiling a list of random hits, and they justify their dismissal by pointing to a handful of examples of chance coincidences that can occur in any language. Some anti-Mormon forums, for example, cite a few random coincidences or point to a list of “Amazing Coincidences” among languages to show how chance can lead to apparent correspondences.  That list does illustrate how chance can lead to a interesting parallels between two unrelated languages, and also reflects the very small number of such correspondences, a mere handful, that one tends to find between any specific pair of unrelated languages. As stated in the quotation from the Native American Languages site above, “Real linguistic analysis requires dozens of vocabulary relationships which are regular and predictable” (emphasis added) — dozens, not a handful. Perhaps 1500 might be considered a good start.

Is 1500 genuinely significant? Relative to the 2700 cognates in UA languages published by Stubbs  in his well regarded scholarly work, Uto-Aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary,  his 1500 cognates with Near Eastern languages may involve roughly 30% of the 2700 entries in his Comparative Vocabulary (some of the 1500 Near Eastern words are reflected in UA words that don’t belong to the set of 2700 or sometimes a single Proto-UA (PUA) cognate may have related UA words that are connected to multiple items on the Near Eastern list, so the ratio is not simple 1500/2700). That percentage may be shifted up or down with future work and peer review, but this is a level of relationship that far exceeds the minimal criteria to establish a legitimate linguistic relationship.

However, critics can also argue that combing through three languages to find cognates for the 30 languages of the UA family will unfairly inflate the odds of finding random hits to proclaim as amazing successes. But the body of cognates for all three Near Eastern languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Egyptian are each independently large enough (hundreds, not just dozens, and vastly more than chance would explain) to demand respect. Further, the hits reported by Stubbs are frequently cognates to PUA with many related descendants among the 30 individual languages.

Further still, the consistent patterns of sound changes are a vital issue that show meaningful relationships beyond random chance. Indeed, it is the explanatory power of Stubbs’ work that demands particular attention and further scholarship, perhaps several lifetimes of scholarship, for that is the level of commitment that such challenges tend to require of those who bring major breakthroughs in understanding language.


Laying a Linguistic Foundation
While some readers will want to dive into the “wow” factors in the evidence right away, Stubbs properly demands more patience from his readers, particularly in Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now, where a basic foundation is laid regarding the approach linguists take in exploring the changes in languages over time and the methodologies requires to establish plausible connections between languages. I found these sections engaging and interesting without being overly technical, and should be enlightening to lay students of languages. 

Stubbs offers many words of caution in presenting his work, and recognizes that linguists will look dimly at his proposal, at least initially. Over the past 3 centuries, they have grown weary of amateurish attempts in the past to link Egyptian or Hebrew to New World languages. “Most such claims have been bogus to borderline or amateurish at best, … void of sound methodology” and “lacking what linguists have found to be established principles and patterns for verifying language relatedness: rules of sound change that create consistent sound correspondence, hundreds of vocabulary matches consistent with those sound correspondences, and some grammatical and morphological alignments, which sum constitute the comparative method. Thus, the language similarities in this work are presented within such a framework of sound correspondences, etc. In fact, the Semitic of Egyptian forms proposed to underlie the UA forms often answer questions and explain puzzles in UA that Uto-Aztecanists have not yet been able to explain, and explanatory power is a cherished quest among linguists.”  Nevertheless, many details remain to be worked out. Stubbs is cautious in presenting his work as an initial effort that may yet require lifetimes of further research, just a many decades of work were required to unravel sound shifts in Germanic and other languages.

Let us now turn to the details in these recent works of Stubbs.

Abbreviations and Other Notes

Several abbreviations will be used here, following Stubbs. UA = Uto-Aztecan, PUA = Proto-Uto-Aztecan, a proto-language that is reconstructed from the evidence available from related languages and hypothesized to have existed as an ancient  parent language, like Proto Indo-European for the Indo-European language group.

A capital C denotes an unspecified consonant and a capital V denotes an unspecified vowel. Thus –Cr– denotes a word with a consonant before an “r.” Capital N denotes a nasal consonant: n, m, or ŋ.

An asterisk denotes a proto-language that is reconstructed and hypothesized to have existed as a parent language, like Proto Indo-European. Thus PUA *p represents the p sound in Proto-Uto-Aztecan, a proto-language that is reconstructed from the evidence available.

Inequality signs denote the direction of change: > means the preceding word or sound changed to or became another as in b > kw, and < means the preceding word or sound changed from or derived from the following word or sound.

Some abbreviations of UA languages:
Ca Cahuilla; Ch Chemehuevi; Cm Comanche; CN Classical Nahuatl; Cp Cupeño; Cr Cora; CU Colorado Ute; EU Eudeve; HP Hopi; KTN Kitanemuk; KW Kawaiisu; LS Luiseño; LP Lower Pima; MN Mono; NP Northern Paiute; NT Northern Tepehuan; NU Northern Ute; NUA Northern Uto-Aztecan; NV Nevome; OP Opata; SH Shoshoni; SP Southern Paiute; SR Serrano; ST Southern Tepehuan; SUA Southern Uto-Aztecan; TB Tübatülabal; TBR Tubar, TO Tohono O’odham, in Arizona; TR Tarahumara; UA Uto-Aztecan; UP Upper Pima; WC Huichol; WMU White Mesa Ute; YQ Yaqui.
Today we'll look at some data for one infusion, Semitic-p, and in later posts will review some of the data for the other two infusions considered.

The Semitic-p Infusion

The Semitic-p infusion into Uto-Aztecan includes words where Semitic b became p in Proto-Uto-Aztecan, a concept written as Semitic b > Uto-Aztecan *p. Examples below are listed with the cognate number from Stubbs’ 2015 technical publication, Explanatory Power:

(527) baraq ‘lightning’ > UA *pïrok; MY berok ‘lightning’

(528) byt / bayit / beet ‘house, spend the night’
> UA *pïtï; TR bete ‘house’
> UA *pïtï ‘lie down, spend night’; Numic *payïC ‘go home’ [recall that the “C” denotes an unknown consonant]

(528) Semitic bytu / bat-uu ‘spend the night, pl’
> UA *pïtu ‘lie down, spend the night, pl’

(531) Hebrew boo’ ‘coming (used as ‘way to’)’
> UA *pooC ‘road, way, path’

(534) Hebrew batt ‘daughter’ > UA *pattï ‘daughter’
(550) Aramaic bǝsár ‘flesh, penis’ > UA *pisa ‘penis’
(559) Semitic *bakay; Syriac baka’ ‘cry’ > UA *paka’ ‘cry’

Just as b changes to p, the other voiced stops also tend to devoice in this infusion. Thus, Semitic b, d, g > UA p, t, k; also Semitic q > k. Several examples include:

(606) dubur ‘buttocks, rear’ > UA *tupur ‘hip, buttocks’

(607) dobɛr ‘pasture, vegetation’ > UA *tupi ‘grass, vegetation’

(1484) dwr / duur ‘go round, turn, revolve’ > UA *tur ‘whirl, roll, twist’

(1103) dakka ‘make flat, stamp, crush’ > UA *takka ‘flat’

(1279) Aramaic *yagar ‘hill, heap of stones’ > UA *yakaR / *yakaC ‘nose, point, ridge’

(608) gdʕ ‘cut off’ > UA *katu’ ‘cut, wound’

(57) *siggoob ‘squirrel’ > UA *sikkuC ‘squirrel’

(1014) qədaal ‘neck, nape of neck’ > UA *kutaC.

Another characteristic of this infusion is that “Proto-Semitic *đ (> Arabic đ, Aramaic d, Hebrew z), corresponds to UA *t (note that UA t best matches Aramaic d (> t) and the vowelings also match Aramaic).”  Examples:

Aramaic dakar ‘male’ > UA *taka ‘man, person’

Aramaic diqn-aa ‘beard / chin-the’
> UA *tï’na ‘mouth’ (not Hebrew zaaqaan)

Aramaic di’b-aa ‘wolf-the’ > UA *tï’pa ‘wolf’ (not Hebrew hazzǝ’eb)

Semitic *đabboot(eey) ‘flies’ > UA *tïpputi ‘flea’

Another sound change here is Semitic ’aleph or glottal stop ’ > w in UA (also known in Arabic), or other times a glottal stop and round vowels occur (o, u). A few of Stubbs’ many examples include:

(566) Hebrew ’ariy / ’arii ‘lion’ > UA *wari ‘mountain lion’

(567) Hebrew ya’amiin-o ‘he believes him/it’ > UA *yawamin-(o) ‘believe (him/it)’

(569) Hebrew ’egooz ‘nut tree’ > UA *wokoC ‘pine tree’

(571) Semitic ya’ya’ / yaa’ayaa’ ‘(be) beautiful’ > LS yawáywa, SR yï’aayï’a’n ‘be pretty, beautiful’

(572) Hebrew ’iiš ‘man, person’ > UA *wïsi ‘person’

(574) Hebrew ’išaa / ’ešɛt / ’išt- ‘woman, wife of’ > UA *wïCti ‘woman, wife’ (reminder: C = unknown consonant; V = unknown vowel)

(577) ’aas- ‘myrtle willow’ > UA *wasV ‘willow’

(579) pa’r- ‘mouse’ > UA *pu’wi(N) ‘mouse’

(1333) Hebrew m’n / *me’’an ‘refuse’ > Hp meewan- ‘forbid, warn’

Another common and logical sound change is Semitic initial r- > t- in UA:

(600) r’y / raa’aa ‘see, v’ > UA *tïwa ‘find, see’

(603) Aramaic rima / rimǝ-taa ‘large stone-the’ > UA *tïmï-ta ‘rock’

(604) Aramaic rə’emaan-aa / reemaan-aa ‘antelope-the’ > UA *tïmïna ‘antelope’

(99) Semitic rakb-uu ‘they mounted, climbed’ > UA *tï’pu / *tïppu ‘climb up’

Other readily understandable sound changes include the loss of a final -r, as in:

(565) makar ‘sell’ > UA *maka ‘give, sell’

(616) dakar ‘male’ > UA *taka ‘man, person’

and the Semitic initial voiceless pharyngeal ђ > UA *hu, or w/o/u, and non-initially ђ > w/o/u, as in:

(672) ђbq ‘break wind’ > UA *hupak- ‘stink’ (*q > k)

(673) ђnk ‘train, dedicate’; Hebrew ђanukkaa ‘dedication, consecration’ > UA/CA huneke ‘to take an Indian bath’; YQ húnak-te ‘show, direct, raise (young)’

(671) ђmm ‘heat, bathe, wash’ > UA *huma ‘wash, bathe’

But many sounds remain much the same, such as such as t, k, p, s, m, n. Examples include:

(52) Hebrew mukkɛ ‘smitten’ > UA *mukki ‘die, be sick, smitten’

(769) *taqipa (sg), *taqipuu (pl) ‘overpower’ > UA *takipu ‘push’ (*q > k)

(755) Hebrew kutónet ‘shirt-like tunic’ > UA *kutun ‘shirt’

(754) Hebrew participle pone ‘turn to, look’ > UA *puni ‘turn, look, see’

(851) Hebrew panaa-w ‘face-his’ > UA *pana ‘cheek, face’

(852) pl. construct paneey- (< *panii) ‘face, surface of’ > UA *pani ‘on, on surface of’

(1339) šippaa ‘make smooth’ > UA *sipa / *sippa ‘scrape, shave’

(56) šεkεm / šikm-, Samaritan šekam ‘shoulder’ > UA *sïka ‘shoulder, arm’, Numic *sikum ‘shoulder’

(563) sapat ‘lip’ > UA *sapal ‘lip’

(879) šwy / šawaa ‘broil, roast’ > UA *sawa ‘boil, apply heat, melt’…

(1105) kali / kulyaa ‘kidney’ > UA *kali ‘kidney’

(1409) Aramaic kuuky-aa’ ‘spider-the’ > UA *kuukyaŋw ‘spider’

An interesting subtlety is that Semitic-p apparently distinguishes between two H sounds in Proto-Semitic, written as *x and *ђ, that merged in Hebrew after the Exile and were merged much earlier in Phoenician. Thus, while ђ > UA *hu or w/o/u, Semitic *x > UA k:

(630) *xole ‘be sick, hurting’ > UA *koli ‘to hurt, be sick’

(631) xmr ‘to ferment’; *xamar ‘wine’; Arabic ximiir ‘drunkard’ > UA *kamaC ‘drunk’

(632) *xnk ‘put around the neck’ > UA konaka ‘necklace, string of beads’

Impressive Depth

The entries in Exploring the Explanatory Power are far more than the amateur list of stray parallels that some critics are imagining from Stubbs. I’ve been impressed with how consistently deep and expansive Stubbs’ analysis is, though I speak as a non-expert. To let readers judge for themselves, I provide a couple of his 1500 entries.

824 Hebrew hayyownaa / hayyoonat ‘dove’:  UA *hayowi ‘dove’.

Note loss of -n- also in Ktn[Kitanemuk] payo' ‘handkerchief’ < Spanish paño; similarly, Sapir claims that single *-n- disappears and only geminated *-nn- survived in SP:

UAcv-696 *hayowi 'dove': M88-h03; KH.NUA; KH/M06-h03: Two languages (Hp, Tb) agree with *howi: HP höwi, pl: höwìit 'dove, mourning dove, white-winged dove'; Tb 'owii-t 'dove'. In contrast, three Numic languages show hewi: Mn heewi' 'mourning dove'; TSh heewi-cci 'dove'; Sh heewi 'dove'. Numic forms showing hewi (Mn, TSh, Sh) leveled the V 's from -ai- / -ay- in *hayowi > heewi, o shortened to be perceived as part of-w-; so as CU 'ayövi and Wc haïmï suggest the first vowel was a. Kw hoyo-vi 'mourning dove'; CU 'ayövi 'dove'; Ch(L) hiyovi; and Sapir's SP iyovi- 'mourning dove' with the final syllable as part of the stem, as in CNum, all show -y-. Kw and CU seem to have reinterpreted the final -vi as an absolutive suffix, but Ch, SP, and CNum suggest otherwise, and we again see -w- > -v- in Num. Most of NUA suggest *hayowi. NP ihobi 'dove' transposed the h.
*hayowi     > hewi (Sh, Mn, TSh)
> hayo    >     'ayö- (CU), iyovi (SP)
> hoyo- (Kw), hiyo(vi) (Ch) > ihobi (NP)
> *howi    > höwi (Hp)
> 'owii-t (Tb)

Only the -n- is missing. Wc haïmï/’áïmï 'dove' and the -howa- of Tr čohówari / čohóbari 'turtle dove' are probably related as well. Wc ï could be a leveling of -yow- (*hayow > haï). TO hoohi 'mourning dove' is probably related in some way, perhaps with preservative consonant harmony (*howi > hoohi), and TO does keep PUA *h sometimes.

[TO keeps  *h; wN>m in wc?, -n- > ∅] [1h,2y,3w,4n] [NUA: Num, Hp, Tb; SUA: Tep, TrC, CrC]
Having recently discussed the significance of several Hebrew words related to dust-motifs in the Book of Mormon, particularly ’pl related to darkness and obscurity, where an interesting wordplay may occur with the word ’pr meaning “dust” in 2 Nephi 1:23, I wished to look at the details Stubbs had uncovered regarding a  relevant term:
871 Hebrew 'pl 'be dark'; Hebrew 'opεl 'darkness'; Hebrew 'aapel 'dark'; Hebrew 'apelaa 'darkness'; Arabic 'afala (< *'apala) 'go down, set (of stars)'; like 'set' and 'go down', this Semitic root also means 'be late, in the day or in the season'; a causative Hebrew form in Jastrow's Aramaic(J) is later Hebrew hε'εpiil 'make dark' with unattested impfv ya'piil (m.) and ta'piil (f.). The unattested huqtal 3rd sg masc and fem passive of the above root would be Hebrew *yu'pal and *tu'pal 'become dark, be gone down (light)' aligning perfectly with UA *yu'pa(l) and *tu'pa(l) in the sets below; in UA *cuppa, the palatalization t- > c- due to the high vowel u, and the cluster doubles the -pp-: Semitic *tu'pal > cuppa:
UAcv-891 *cuppa 'fire go out': M67-171 *cupa 'fire go out'; 236 'go out (of fire)'; M88-cu9; KH/M06-co21:
Tb cupat, ’ucup 'be out (of fire)' ; Tb(H) cuppat 'fire to be out, go out'; Wr co'a 'put out fire'; Wr co'i 'be out (of fire)' ; Tr čo'á-ri- 'have another put out fire’; Tr čo'wi 'dark'; NV tubanu 'bajar de lo alto [go down from high up)'. …

In the following, the semantic tie goes from 'set, go down, end (day)' to 'end (of whatever)':
UA cv-871a *cuCpa/i / *cuppa 'finish, be end of s.th.': I.Num258 *cu/*co 'disappear'; M88-cu1 'finish'; KH/M06-cul: Mn cúppa 'disappear'; NP coppa 's.th. sinking'; My cúppe 'terminarse, vi'; My cúppa 'terminar, vt';
AYq čupa 'finish, complete, fulfill (vow)'; AYq hi(t)čuppa 'completing, fulfilling (vow), harvesting', AYq čupe 'get completed, finished, married, ripe'; AYq čupia 'be complete'; Yq čúpa 'terminar (bien)'; Wr cu'piba-ni 'acabar'; Sr 'ičo'kin 'make, fix, finish'; Wc sïï 'finish'. Note Mn 'disappear' and NP 'sinking' reflect 'sun going down'. The over-lapping semantics (finish/harvest) in Cah (My, AYq) may have us keep in mind *cuppV 'gather, close eyes'. Does Sr ‘ičo-kin 'make, fix, finish' have hi- prefix or is it from Hebrew ya-suup 'come to an end'?

UAcv-871b *copa / *cupa 'braid, finish weaving': Tr čobå/čóba- 'trenzarse, hacerse la trenza', Tb tadzuub 'braid it'; CN copa 'finish weaving/constructing s.th.'; CN copi 'piece of weaving or construction to get finished'…. [NUA: Num, Tak, Tb; SUA: TrC, CrC, Azt] 

Other groups of UA words related in different ways to Hebrew *yu'pal and *tu'pal  include, in the abbreviated format from Changes in Languages:

(872) ’pl / *yu’pal ‘be dark, go down, m’ > UA *yu’pa > *yuppa ‘be dark, black, (fire) go out’

(873) ’pl / *yu’pal ‘be dark, go down, m’ > UA *yu’pa(l) > Aztecan *yowal, CN yowal-li ‘night, n’  (The Aztecan branch regularly loses a single -p-)

Several other dust-related correspondences include item 591, Hebrew ’adaama and UA *tïma, “earth”;  item 150, Egyptian t’, “earth, land, ground, country,” cf. Coptic to, and UA *tiwa, “sand, dust,” and also UA *to’o, “dust”;  item 162 Egyptian šʕy ‘sand’ (Coptic šoo) > UA *siwa(l) ‘sand’;  and item 665, Aramaic ђirgaa’, “dust,” and UA *huCkuN (C again means an unknown consonant and N is a nasal sound), “dust”. 

The richness of linkages in the vocabulary related to dirt, dust, earth, and sand is reflected in many other areas, ranging from body parts and functions, animals, pronouns, numerous details of daily life, etc.

Overall, these two new works are impressive contributions not just to the study of language in the Americas but also to the study of the Book of Mormon. In terms of Book of Mormon evidence, what Stubbs has begun here may be one of the most significant advances in our ability to relate the Book of Mormon to New World data. Stubbs conclusions were driven by data and unexpected discoveries, not by a desire to prove anything or see something that isn’t really there. It can only be hoped that others will consider the data as well and the impressive case it makes for Old World infusions into the New.  


There is much more to explore in following posts, including the explanatory power of his finds.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Ambulance Never Came

I usually walk or ride my bike to and from work, but on a cool rainy night recently, I tried taking a bus instead. Ended up taking much longer than just walking. Part of the problem was a busy road (Gubei Road near Gubei's elegant pedestrian street) was partly blocked by a traffic accident. As we drove by the scene, I saw a car and a little motorcycle-powered three-wheeled rig for a restaurant delivery service. There was a woman pacing next to the car talking to someone on a cell phone. And then I saw two feet pointed upwards on the ground. A man was lying on the asphalt near the car that had struck his little vehicle. Cars were passing near him. It was raining on him. Nobody seemed to be looking after the victim, with hundreds of cars steadily moving on both sides. Why was nobody helping?

It seemed beyond my ability to do anything about it, but I got off at the next stop and thought I should at least walk back to the accident site and see if things were OK. I debated internally as I pondered all the things I needed to do and the shear improbability of making a difference because things were probably under control by then. But I felt drawn and so I went back. As I approached the scene, I was relieved to see two police officers had shown up. Things were under control. Still, I crossed the street near them to get a peak at the victim, whom I assumed would now be receiving some kind of help. He was still lying in the same place, rain falling on him, with no protection. Then I realized that, perhaps for the first time ever, I had two umbrellas with me that day. I had grabbed one when I went to work, forgetting that I already had one in the bag I carry. I had two, and since the officers didn't seem to have any, I could offer them one to help them at least keep the victim dry until an ambulance showed up.

The officer I spoke to recognized that an umbrella would be useful, but he was busy directing traffic and said if I wanted to, I could hold it for the victim. Well, OK, the ambulance would be here any minute and so sure, I could help out a bit. I recognized that people passing by might think that I had been the driver of the vehicle that struck the man, but hoped that I would be doing more good than harm by being the volunteer umbrella holder. The woman driver who had been standing around doing nothing said something like, "Oh, right, good idea" when I started trying to protect the victim. But she didn't offer to take over that role.  I was disappointed that the driver didn't seem very worried about the delivery man she had struck. He was about 50 years old and had a lot to say about the allegedly reckless driver who struck him while he was driving properly and carefully. Proper driving isn't all that common here, so I can't judge who was at fault. He worked for one of Shanghai's best and healthiest restaurants, Element Fresh, which I would learn provides good health care coverage for their employees.

The man was in pain but it didn't appear critical, but I was worried about the possibility of internal bleeding and wanted the ambulance to get there ASAP. After about 10 minutes I asked if  ambulance was coming. "Yes, I called for one." After about 20 minutes I asked again and she then said that the ambulance service she called had said all the ambulances were busy and that they would call her when one became free. Huh? I talked to the police and suggested that we should give up on this no-show ambulance and take him to the hospital in a taxi. There were taxis coming by all the time. Why not use one of them?

The police reminded me that the man was injured and it would be dangerous to move him ourselves. By then, though, the man was really sick of lying on the road and said he was going to sit up, and would we help him. So the police helped him to sit up. And then he said that this was a bad place to be waiting and that he wanted to talk over to the curb where it would be safer and more comfortable, and could we please help him walk over there? So the police helped him as I held my two umbrellas above us, and continued holding both for the man and me as we waited. And waited. I again raised the possibility of a taxi. After about 40 minutes of waiting, the police saw that as a good idea and agreed. So I waved down a taxi and wondered if I would be needed to take the man to the hospital, but was relieved to see that the police arranged for the woman to take the man there and that I would not be needed.

The ambulance never came. A poor man struck by a car laid on the road for perhaps an hour or so waiting for am ambulance that never came. A Taiwanese friend of mine later suggested that the woman may have lied and never called the ambulance because in China it is the person who calls the ambulance that pays for it. Perhaps. But later another friend at lunch shared an even more painful story of a stroke victim he was helping in Shanghai, where it took an hour to get an ambulance and then when they came, the team had rough street people who moved the victim like one moves a bag of potatoes. In any case, in this, one of the most advanced and modern cities in the world, when you need it, the ambulance might not come for a very long time. This is a problem that can happen anywhere, especially in times of crisis, not just in rush hour.

By the way, I was able to reach the man later to check up on him. He's doing well and is taking a month off from work to recover from the injury to his side. No surgery needed. He was quite upbeat. Element Fresh provides good health care benefits it seems and the responsible driver paid for the medical care. I also was impressed that the leaders at the Element Fresh restaurant at Yili Road/Yanan Road were aware of the man's situation and care about him and helped me contact him to check on his status. To thank Element Fresh (and more selfishly, to enjoy delicious, healthy dining), my wife and I dined there last night and had a wonderful meal.

More and more, it seems that we need to be increasingly prepared to take care of ourselves and reduce our dependency on others. When it comes to health, we need to be doing more to reduce our future reliance on services that might not be there or whose quality might be far below what we need. Now is the time to exercise, lose weight, stop smoking, eat wisely with plenty of plants in our diet, and to reduce behaviors that put us at risk.

As I reflect upon the many things I am grateful for, the gift of physical health is high on the list. Each day as I experience the fascinating sights and sounds of China, most commonly on my way to and from work by walking or riding my bike through the always intriguing streets of Shanghai, I ponder on what a blessing it is to be able to walk or ride.

A couple years ago I had a near-miss with a bad surgeon at a good hospital here who was going to "fix" a knee problem (he said he would repair my meniscus), but after I had checked in for the surgery, a comment from one of the staff about "removing the meniscus" raised my suspicions and I decided to just get up and walk away. I've been walking ever since. Had I succumbed to the recommended surgery, I think my mobility might have been impaired.

After I walked away, I called a physical therapist I knew for a second opinion. He said the way to check to see if I really needed surgery would be to go to another reputable hospital and meet with a surgeon there and show them my MRI scan, but tell them that if I needed surgery, I would not do it there so they would have no profit motive to sell their surgery to me. Surgery is the solution for everything in China, he explained, because that's where the profit is. Something like 70% of all babies born are delivered with C-section. And I suppose a lot of knees get repaired unnecessarily as well.

I took a taxi to another hospital and minutes later was meeting with a surgeon. He checked my knee, looked at the MRI, and said this was not a case where surgery was needed. "Try physical therapy." I went to that physical therapist and after the first treatment, my problem was significantly reduced, and ten treatments later, I was pretty much back to normal. There is a damaged meniscus, but better  damaged one than none at all. I came so close to reducing my long-term mobility, and I remain grateful every day that I can walk or ride. It's exhilarating to move and to be independent. I will greatly miss this freedom when it is gone or limited someday. But for now, my mobility is one of my most cherished gifts, and I recognize it all the more as a gift since that near miss, and from some accidents that could easily have given me a broken bone or worse, where I am just so grateful to have been able to walk away.

Our health is so precious, and it is up to us to protect it. With the strains on the healthcare system and the increasing difficulty of paying for medical insurance, coupled with the decreasing quality of coverage in many places, it is imperative that we do more to preserve our health and to be able to cope with our problems on our own or with our own resources. We can't always assume that the help we expect to get will be available. And when we do get it, even from good doctors at good clinics, things can go wrong. Prevention must be our first line of defense. Being prepared to render first aid and take care of basic problems is also vital. For more serious things, doing our own research so we understand the issues can make us less dependent on one person's opinion and can often increase our ability to guide outcomes in the right direction.

Special thanks to those of you who are going into the the medical profession. We need more good doctors, nurses, and other experts. Thank you!