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Accusatory Questions

Isn't it True that Mormon in Chinese means "Gates of Hell"?

W. John Walsh
Stephen R. Gibson

by W. John Walsh

Since "Mormon" is not a Chinese word, it doesn't meaning anything in Chinese.  As I don't speak any Chinese dialects, I don't know whether the sounds used to make the word "Mormon" are close to any Chinese words or not.  Even if they were, it would be a moot point because it would be a word that sounds like another word, not the word itself.  Let me use a few English words to show my point:

Principle and Principal
Dessert and Desert

In both cases the words have a similar spelling and sound.  Yet, they have totally different meanings.  The Church does not claim to be the Church of the devil in any language.  We are the true Church of Jesus Christ, personally restored to the earth by the resurrected Savior himself (See First Vision). 

by Stephen R. Gibson

This gross misrepresentation can be heard in The God Makers movie and from anti-Mormons parroting the falsehood which it foisted upon them.  Robert W. Blair, professor of linguistics at Brigham Young University, is one of several scholars who have answered that charge.  He explained that in the Chinese language foreign words are converted into characters which, when read aloud, more or less approximate the sound of the foreign word.  In the case of "Mormon", it is represented by two characters that closely approximate the English pronunciation of "Mormon."

The second symbol used for "Mormon" would mean "gate", "door", or "way" in the pure Chinese.  Professor Blair said the same symbol would be used to represent the second syllable of the names Simon, Truman, Naumann, Gohrmun, or Seimen.  The first symbol of "Mormon" could have been written with one or two syllables; depending upon the desired emphasis for the "R" sound.  The two-syllable choice would have placed more of an accent on the R: "Mo(are)Men." Instead, the Church selected a symbol that reflects an "r-less accent" or "Mo-Men" sound.

In selecting a Chinese character to represent the first syllable of Mo-Men, almost any one of 30 Chinese characters that are read as "Mo" could have been chosen.  Let us quote from Professor Blair's research:

The symbol that was actually selected is the character specifically used to represent a like sounding syllable in foreign words.  When not used to render a meaningless syllable of a foreign word, this character suggests "smoothing something with the hand." (If one were to take this literal rendering seriously, one could explain "Mo-Men" as meaning "hand-smoothed Gateway, " or "way smoothed by hands."  Further, interpolation might suggest that it was the bleeding hands of Jesus Christ that smoothed the way to Salvation!)

What the crafty enemies of the Restored Church have done is to pervert the facts in such a way that only those knowing Chinese can see their fraud.  From the thirty characters which have been reading Mo, they substituted the one which means "devil" (and which is not the one used by the Church) and then propagated the lie that in Chinese the word "Mormon" means "Devil's gate," or "Gateway to Hell."

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