According to some of Joseph's closest associates as well as those who saw Joseph translate the Book of Mormon, when Joseph looked into the Urim and Thummim he was able to see the English translation. Some witnesses even claimed that Joseph spelled out proper names and the English text remained in view until it was written down correctly. Most of the accounts that describe the translation process were recorded long after the fact and are often second or third hand. Because Joseph did not share the details himself, however, it is from these other reports that scholars attempt to deduce what took place when Joseph translated the Nephite record. Among LDS scholars there are at least two different views as to the transmission of the Book of Mormon text into English. Some believe in a \"tight control\" and others in a \"loose control\" (still others believe in a combination of the two). Those who hold a \"tight control\" view of the translation believe that Joseph saw God-revealed English words that were then dictated to a scribe. According to this position, the English translation represents a fairly literal-translation from the Nephite text. It's important to note that such a translation would only have been \"fairly literal\" for at least three reasons: (1) Many words do not have an exact word-for-word translation from one language to another. For instance, I understand that the Japanese language has no word which simply means \"brother.\" Instead, there are different words for \"older brother\" and \"younger brother.\" This presents an interesting problem when translating the \"brother of Jared\" into Japanese. Many other such examples could be found. Word-for-word translations sometimes yield nonsense or even humorous results. If we translated the German word \"Kindergarten\" literally into English, for example, we would get \"child garden\" rather than the intended meaning of a school that precedes first grade.(2) A literal translation to Joseph Smith would not necessarily equate to a literal translation to twenty-first century Americans or even other nineteenth-century contemporaries of Joseph Smith. This was discussed briefly in issue 18 and it relates to the problem we see with a word-for-word translation above. Words have meaning in the context of other words as well as the context of culture. The word \"gay\" for example, means something completely different to twenty-first century Americans than it did to nineteenth-century Americans. A crystal clear translation to Joseph Smith would not guarantee that other readers would understand the precise meaning just as clearly.In other instances the words used to translate a foreign text may accurately reflect the sense of the original language but may not reflect a precise word-for-word conveyance of the foreign words.(3) The accuracy of Book of Mormon translation would still have been dependant on the accuracy for which Joseph dictated the text as well as how accurate the scribe was in recording the dictation. Tight control is not the same as what has been called \"iron-clad control.\" LDS scholars do not believe that the English Book of Mormon manuscript was the perfect, unalterable word of God. This is typically the position taken by critics who wish to construct a straw man Book of Mormon which they hope to destroy. Many of those critics who impose this view on the Book of Mormon also believe that the Bible is the perfect, error-free word of God — something not accepted by Latter-day Saints. The second position held by many LDS scholars is a \"loose control\" view of the Book of Mormon translation. According to this view, Joseph was more than a mere fax machine for the English translation. Instead of seeing God-revealed English words, Joseph would have received God-given impressions that conveyed ideas, images, or concepts to Joseph's mind. Joseph then would have formulated — in his own language — words that expressed and conveyed those impressions. When English words were formed, that \"fairly\" accurately expressed those impressions, Joseph could have seen the result of such formulations as English text in the Urim and Thummim — which he then dictated to his scribe. Some people — myself included — believe in a combination of the two positions. I believe that while Joseph may have seen God-revealed English translations of the text — especially in regards to proper names — Joseph typically expressed that translation in his own language, as well as his understanding of the English of his day. In the next issue we'll examine some of the implications and results of both tight and loose control for the Book of Mormon translation.