Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Book of Mormon, Language, Names


Nobody in the early days of the church attempted to define in print how the proper names appearing in the Book of Mormon—but not the Bible—were to be pronounced. Joseph Smith spelled out unfamiliar proper names to his scribes during the translation process, and he never formally recorded his pronunciations. Throughout the twentieth century, several church committees attempted to standardize the pronunciation and provided a printed guide for English-speaking church members. In studying the pronunciation guide’s evolution for English-speaking church members, one thing becomes clear: church members will probably never pronounce Book of Mormon proper names correctly until either the ancients themselves tell us how they said their names or the Lord reveals the proper pronunciations.