FAIRMormon had its annual conference recently. Transcripts of some of the talks will be available soon, but I recommend watching the presentations by paying for video access. I got up ridiculously early on a Saturday morning here in Shanghai to watch linguist Brian Stubbs talk about the Uto-Aztecan language group and its surprisingly strong connections to Near Eastern languages, a finding that was driven by data, not apologetics, but one that opens some important doors for understanding the ancient influence of the Near East on some ancient New World peoples. I will discuss this more in the near future and will be reviewing his outstanding new book on the topic, Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now.
Another presentation dealing with surprising finds in language related to the Book of Mormon came from Royal Skousen and Stanford Carmack, “Finishing up the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project: An Introduction to The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon.” A large portion of this reviewed some of the very large body of evidence pointing to Early Modern English influence in the dictated text of the Book of Mormon, something that supports tight control (and possibly divine control) in at least some major aspects of the translation process. This, again, is not something being driven by apologetics because there is no reason why we need such a finding to defend the Book of Mormon. It is driven by the data, and the data form a very strong argument that contradicts many simple assumptions about the translation process and the authorship of the Book of Mormon.
There were many other great presentations on other topics unrelated to language issues. The transcripts for most of them should be posted shortly. Enjoy!