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Proclaiming the Way in Japanese: The 1909 Translation of the Book of Mormon

TitleProclaiming the Way in Japanese: The 1909 Translation of the Book of Mormon
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsTakagi, Shinji
JournalJournal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture
KeywordsForeign Language Translation; Japanese; Missionary Work

The early twentieth century found the Japanese language in a state of flux—colloquial Japanese was very slowly beginning to replace classical written Japanese, whose grammar had remained relatively intact for centuries. At this time of change Elder Alma O. Taylor began his 1909 translation of the Book of Mormon. He choose initially to render the text into the colloquial style; however, prodded by his Japanese reviewers, Taylor quickly realized that no publicly praiseworthy translation could be made in colloquial Japanese. The choice to translate the Book of Mormon in the classical language, as well as to have successful Japanese author, Choko Ikuta, review and edit the translation, allowed the 1909 text to accurately portray doctrine as well as to be considered a major literary achievement.