Nephite, Lamanite, Ajredite, Joseph Smith, names, Book of Mormon, Mormon, LDS, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Although some authors of fiction attempt to hide their real names by publishing their work under pseudonyms, the letters and sounds they consciously or subconsciously select for the names of their characters often reveal the author’s true identity. Since 1985, research has explored the name letter effect—the preference people show for the letters and sounds (especially initial sounds) in their own names. This tendency is evident in the highly personal and introspective literature produced in the United States during Joseph Smith’s lifetime by authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, and Edgar Allan Poe. The purpose of this study was to examine the unique names in the Book of Mormon for the consonants and vowels present in the name Joseph Smith. Results showed low occurrences even though these sounds are common in conversational English. In contrast, comparisons of the name Solomon Spalding to the unique character names in his fictional Manuscript Found showed significantly higher indications of the name letter effect. Similar analysis showed that the sound correspondences in the names Sidney Rigdon, Parley Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, Ethan Smith, and Solomon Spalding (individuals proposed as Book of Mormon authors) were different than correspondences with Joseph Smith in the unique names of the Book of Mormon, but not enough to identify any as a possible author based on name letter effect.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Brown, Bruce L.; Black, Sharon; Wilcox, Brad; and Baker Smemoe, Wendy, "Absence of “Joseph Smith” in the Book of Mormon: Lack of the Name Letter Effect in Nephite, Lamanite, and Jaredite Names" (2016). Faculty Publications. 5987.
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