Archaic English and Prayer

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Okay, why is it that all official LDS (and other denominational) prayers continue to use words like ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ when they could be using contemporary English?

Not to mention the fact that this 17th century language is generally used incorrectly. I believe the intent is wrong as well, since ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ are actually less formal.

Paul said something about this in 1 Corinthians 14:19:

yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

63 thoughts on “Archaic English and Prayer

  1. Cstanford, you missed the point.

    If the point was to translate meaning, then why weren’t meaningful words used rather than inserting an un-meaningful *new* word?

    That was my point addressing specifically what was stated in #47.

    New words *would* be expected if *literal* translations were occurring – which is part of John’s point, I believe.

  2. I agree that “curelom” and “cumom” are both probably near-renderings of the actual words on the plates. (In fact, that’s why I personally believe the word *horses* in the Book of Mormon means horses as we generally understand that word—because if the word on the plates meant something other than a horse, Joseph could have simply given a phonetic rendering of it.) Likewise, the translated Book of Mormon gives the name *Liahona* to the director that Lehi found outside his tent. Sometimes the name *Liahona* is used, presumably because that was the actual word written on the plates. At other times, the actual word or words written on the plates seems to have been something else—a reference to the Liahona other than in name. So whatever word or words were used to mean “directing ball thingy” were translated, quite reasonably, into the English word that best fit the meaning: *compass.*

    John seems to think that since compasses hadn’t been invented yet, Lehi’s brain would have been utterly unable to come up with any word or combination of words meaning “gadget that gives directions.”

  3. Thanks Rick, what you say is a part of what I was saying.

    Itbufag, I’ll continue typing Olde English, ’till you see the irony of it as it pertains to this thread.

    As well, if an object does not exist in a given society, society has no ability to name it. For in the naming ther would be no point of referential meaning. Whether you realize it or not the mind either envisions the object or the letters to which the word refers. Without mental reference there is no meaning to words.

    Thats all kinda’ beside of the point. How about this,can someone come up with any proof of an object that showed directions that existed at the time of the plates engraving.

    Also, just how revered are these plates, by LDS and church doctrine?

  4. In response to #51:
    Is the point I missed that Joseph Smith didn’t need to make up a word like “Liahona” when “compass” did just fine? Or is there another example of an unnecessary word-coining – besides the transliteration of purported “foreign” words on the plates – that you want to point to?

    I believe that “Liahona”, “irreantum”, “neas”, “sheum”, “curelom”, “cumom”, etc. were transliterations and for one reason or another he chose to keep them as they were rather than translating (rather like names are usually left untranslated). It certainly would make no sense for JS to just make them up if he wanted the Book of Mormon to be taken seriously. Of course, if you are determined to not take it seriously or believe its claims nothing can stop you.

    FWIW, I’m partial to the notion that the first 4 of those words came from languages other than Hebrew or Egyptian, which would explain why Nephi felt like he needed to explain what “Liahona” and “Irreantum” meant. (Let’s not forget that “curelom” and “cumom” are most likely from whatever language the Jaredites spoke and it’s most probable that Moroni didn’t know what they meant himself.)

    Re: #56:
    Hoo boy, that’s a classic. I’ll bring that up next time someone mentions red peppers.

  5. “he chose to keep them”

    So now Joseph has options in how and what he translated?

    Getting a description of what Joseph was doing is a bit like nailing Jello-O to a wall, no?

  6. Just as with the Holy Bible, if Joseph added to or took away from the Divine inspiration he fouled the Word of God.

  7. >if an object does not exist in a given society, society has no ability to name it.

    And since the Liahona *did* exist in the society of Lehi’s family and descendants, that society was capable of using words to describe it.

    >Itbufag (sic), I’ll continue typing Olde English (sic), ’till (sic) you see the irony of it as it pertains to this thread.

    If you misusing a term out of simple ignorance is ironic, then enjoy yourself.

  8. Sheesh, what a stew. All I know is my prayers are heard and answered NO MATTER WHAT language I use. In my mind, using the thees and the thous is helpful to me because it sets my prayer language apart from my worldly language. But I do not consider it “wrong” to do it in any other fashion.

    The thing that matters to me is sorting out which elements of LDS faith are core doctrine and which are the traditions of men. Face it folks, like green jello and funeral potatoes, there are a lot of things that LDS folks do that have very little to do with coming to Christ.

    I believe it is far more important that prayer becomes a sincere and frequent part of our lives than what specific words we use.

    There may or may not be equivalents to thee, thy, thine in all the multitude of other languages, but those prayers are just as important.

    We are taught that the gospel must go forward to EVERY language – to me that includes Ebonics and street slang. It’s the intent behind the words that matter.

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