Book of Mormon Language Lessons

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“Book of Mormon Language Lessons,” Ensign, Aug. 1999, 70–71

Book of Mormon Language Lessons

In preparation for a trip to Italy, I carefully listened to a set of language tapes and memorized phrases from a guidebook. I experienced moderate success in finding our way to the hotel and ordering meals at various ristoranti. It wasn’t until I read the Book of Mormon in Italian, however, that I felt I had really begun to learn the language.

With the English version of 1 Nephi next to the Italian one, I commenced reading Il Libro di Mormon. At first I made my way through only four or five verses a day, always checking unfamiliar words against the English copy. But as repeated words and phrases became familiar, I began to read more. Further help came from a returned missionary who recorded several chapters on tape so I could listen to spoken Italian.

Still I translated back and forth, encountering new words on every page. One day, while reading in Alma 5, I realized that I was actually reading in Italian and that translating into English was slowing me down. At that point I no longer read only at night but eagerly turned to the Book of Mormon during free moments throughout my day. By removing sections from the paperback copies I had in both languages and putting them in my purse, I was able to read on airplanes and buses and while waiting for appointments.

Reading the Book of Mormon in a new language caused me to read more slowly and thoughtfully. I found heightened meaning in some words. For example, the Italian mediante reads in English as “through.” Mediante, however, has a more complex meaning in Italian that implies Christ’s role as our Mediator. As I pondered such words, I found new insight into the meaning of the scriptures.

One year after I began 1 Nefi, I finished reading the last five verses of Moroni aloud. As I did so, I was moved to tears and felt the Holy Ghost testify that Gesù Cristo vive (Jesus Christ lives) and Il Libro di Mormon è vero (the Book of Mormon is true).

In a neighboring ward, 25 people are reading the Book of Mormon in various languages, including Spanish, German, and Portuguese. One sister chose Swedish because her great-grandparents first read the Book of Mormon in Swedish and joined the Church. While reading, she felt closer to these ancestors than ever before.

Reading the Book of Mormon in a new language is one way we can “study and learn, and become acquainted with … languages, tongues, and people” (D&C 90:15).—Janet Peterson, Sandy, Utah