August 25, 2019

    I continue here with my lengthy quotation from H. L. Mencken, The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States, 4th ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1937), 684-685.  In this passage, helped by H. I. Katibah and by Princeton University’s great Philip K. Hitti, Mencken  is giving examples of English words assimilated into their native Syro-Lebanese Arabic by early Arab immigrants to the United States:   haldab (to hold up).  A recent… Read more

August 25, 2019

    One of my earliest memories is a curious one:  I recall, as a kindergardener (so at about five years old), addressing the board of the San Gabriel School District.  I believe it was in a building near the intersection of Del Mar Avenue and Mission Road.  I remember a chart of the solar system and a fairly large cardboard rocket standing to my left; I believe that my mother (and I, sort of) had made it, probably out… Read more

August 25, 2019

    I posted an appeal for movie extras several days ago, in connection with the filming of the dramatic portions of our Witnesses project.  I now have more specific information for the Canadian filming that I can share, and that might make it easier for anybody who is interested in participating as an extra.  See below.   Our filming begins in just a few days.   We’re pretty much covered for extras in Utah, I believe, but we’re still looking for… Read more

August 24, 2019

    Here’s a piece from the redoubtable Jeff Lindsay:   “John Gee’s Troubling Review of the Joseph Smith Papers Volume on the Book of Abraham”   And here’s one from the incisive Steve Smoot:   “The Ex-Mormon’s Progress”   ***   And, speaking of progress, here are a trio of interesting items:   “From Acorn to Oak: Fulfilling a Prophecy about the Church in South America”   “Rare Discovery Provides Insight into Apostle’s Tour That Changed Missionary Work in… Read more

August 24, 2019

    From H. L. Mencken, The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States, 4th ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1937), 684:   Perhaps the first verb to be borrowed from English by the Syrian immigrants to the United States was sannas (to make a cent).  It appears in the sentence, “L’yom ma sannasna.”  (We haven’t made a cent today.)  Another early loan-verb was shannaj (to make change, whether of money or of… Read more

August 24, 2019

    There is significant and potentially history-making news out of Washington DC:   “Ruth Bader Ginsburg treated for malignant tumor on pancreas, Supreme Court says”   “Dr. Marc Siegel praises Ginsburg as ‘fighter’ amid latest cancer battle”   I would love to see the Trump administration have the opportunity to make another appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States.  His court appointments have been helping me to endure the presidency of Mr. Donald J. Trump, and they’re… Read more

August 24, 2019

    Today marks the thirteenth anniversary of the day in 2006 that the International Astronomical Union (IAU), announced a new definition for the term planet and, at the same time, decreed that Pluto no longer met the criteria for being classified as a planet in our solar system.  Pluto Demotion Day, it’s been called since then.  A day that, for more than a few, will live in infamy unless and until Pluto is restored to full planetary status.   Here is… Read more

August 24, 2019

    “Our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of science in any particular. You may take geology, for instance, and it is a true science; not that I would say for a moment that all the conclusions and deductions of its professors are true, but its leading principles are; they are facts — they are eternal; and to assert that the Lord made this earth out of nothing is preposterous and impossible. God never made something… Read more

August 23, 2019

    Today’s new article in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship is John Gee, “The Joseph Smith Papers Project Stumbles”:   Review of The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, Volume 4: Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts, eds. Robin Scott Jensen and Brian M. Hauglid (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2018), 381 pages. Abstract: Volume 4 of the Revelations and Translations series of the Joseph Smith Papers does not live up to the standards set in previous volumes…. Read more

August 23, 2019

    Arabic is built almost entirely off of triconsonantal roots — e.g., k-t-b, which connotes the idea of writing, produces such derivative words as kataba (“he wrote”), kaatib (“writer”), kitaab (“book”), maktuub (“written”), maktab (“desk”), maktaba (“library”/”bookstore”), and so forth.  But it also sometimes uses quadriliteral roots — e.g. the obviously onomatopoeic verb waswasa (“to whisper”) and the noun jumhuriyya (“republic”), from the root j-m-h-r.   Given this productive structure, Arabic can integrate loan words from foreign languages with remarkable ease.  For example, talfana (“to… Read more

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