That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest. - Henry David Thoreau
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

The Book of Mormon is written in English that from what I understand was common in Joseph Smith's time. So I am wondering if other translations of the Book of Mormon use more modern language in whatever language it is translated into or if it tries to use older sounding language? Also for those of you who have read the Book of Mormon in a different language did you find anything that had different meaning for you?

Thanks

Wishing I was multi lingual

A:

Dear Lingual,

I can't answer this for every language, but Book of Mormon in Spanish sounds old, unless you're from Spain and then it sounds perfectly normal. They still speak using the Spanish versions of thee and thou, which originally were the informal forms of speech. I think it sounds less old in Spanish than in English because Spanish speakers are more used to formal-informal distinctions.

I would say that reading the scriptures in a non-native language makes you pay attention more, which can be good for learning new things. I feel like reading in my native English allowed me to see some more subtle word meanings, which is also nice. I think once I had gotten use to Spanish it didn't matter too much which language I read my scriptures in, although it was easier in English. To me paying attention and praying to have the Spirit made more of a difference than whether I was reading in English or in Spanish. 

I do have a favorite Spanish verse though. In English, Moroni 7:46-47 has the phrases "charity never faileth" and "But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever...". These verses are beautiful in English but the phrases used in Spanish are more meaningful to me. "Nunca deja de ser" and "permanece para siempre" mean the same thing as "never faileth" and "endureth forever", but translated more directly they mean that charity "Doesn't stop being" and "stays". To me never failing and enduring forever seems lofty and unrealistic. It's much easier for me to visualize and connect with staying and not stopping. That verse in Spanish reminds me that Christ always stays by us and never stops loving us.

Thanks for asking this question. If you really ponder the words I'm sure you'll find the scriptures to be more meaningful regardless of the language. Hope this helps!

Peace,

Tipperary

A:

Dear Wishing,

I've read the Book of Mormon in both Spanish and Portuguese, and while I definitely don't speak good enough Portuguese to tell what level of formality in language it uses, I can second Tipperary in the Spanish version still sounding formal. 

I found certain verses that were more meaningful to me in Spanish than they were in English, or that even cleared up some imprecise wording in the English version, and that was really cool for me. Reading the Book of Mormon in a different language helped me see things in a new light and appreciate them more. But at the same time, there were verses that just didn't have the same meaning in the translation as they did in English. So yeah, you're probably missing out on some things by not being able to read the Book of Mormon in another language, but at the same time, people who can't read it in English are also missing out on things. So in the end everyone is missing out on things, and that's what the gospel is all about, you know? Okay not really, sorry for my blasphemous joke, but in all sincerity, I love that the Book of Mormon will always be meaningful no matter what language you read it in. In the end you're not going to miss out on opportunities for spiritual growth/inspiration if you never read it in a different language, because the Spirit will teach you what you need to learn in whatever version you're reading.

-Alta

A:

Dear Wishing,

Swedish got a new translation just a few years ago. The old translation sounded old on purpose and was hard to read. The new translation is a lot more modern, but the writing style of the book itself still makes it feel somewhat old. The Swedes said it takes some adjusting to get used to reading it, even with the new version.

I've also heard that the Japanese Book of Mormon sounds pretty old (or at least used to).

-Kirito

posted on 12/31/2017 1:53 a.m.
Dear Wishing,

For the record, the English of the Book of Mormon was archaic even in the early 1800s-- read a book by Jane Austen (published in 1811-1817), for example, and you'll see that while her English is more formal than our language today, it's very different from Book of Mormon language. That's because the BoM's English matches that of the King James version of the Bible, which was the most popular translation of the day. That version was published in 1611-- roughly the same time Shakespeare was writing, and two hundred years before the BoM was published. Language changed a lot in those two hundred years.

If you want to get more out of the BoM in English, I'd recommend reading more Shakespeare-- one of the versions with a lot of textual notes. Seeing some of his plays performed would be helpful as well. The more understandable Shakespeare becomes to you, the more the BoM will be as well.

-Wahlee
posted on 12/31/2017 1:53 a.m.
The French Book of Mormon is written in formal French, employing the passé simple tense (a tense used only in writing or very formal speeches) which gives it a feeling we would term as biblical.
posted on 01/06/2018 12:51 a.m.
Your average Korean struggles reading The Book of Mormon without help because the vocabulary and grammar structure is very old. There are multiple versions where people try to balance comprehension and stay true to formality.

As recent as 2005, they changed the Korean 'latter' in "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because they were using a more formal version of 'latter' which made it sound really apocalyptic. Languages are incredibly culture dependent so translation is always a struggle.