After completing two recent books, Geology of the Book of Mormon and Translation of the "Caractors" Document, as is usual, I found a number of additional research avenues triggered as an outcome of my research in support of those efforts. As I am an independent researcher operating without the benefit of staff and budget, I am really only capable of pursuing one avenue at a time, so chose to look first at issues raised that had direct bearing on our understanding of the Jaredite world, as they happen to be first in the chronological sequence of the Book of Mormon.
In completing the translation of the Caractors Document, it was apparent that some of the place names contained in the Book of Mormon are actually descriptors of the places themselves. This is not an unusual phenomenon. It occurs in the Bible and other ancient cultures, as well as in many cultures all over the world today, including the United States (i.e. Niagara Falls, Salt Lake City, etc.). This is not actually an especially new concept with regards to the Book of Mormon and the Jaredites, since the Book of Mormon openly indicates that approach:
And it came to pass that he came to the waters of Ripliancum, which, by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all;
It seemed prudent to attempt to determine any potential etymologies of Jaredite names that might give some insight in helping reconstruct more specific plausible locations for Jaredite places. In looking at Jaredite names, one name in particular, Kish, seemed to point towards Sumerian as a potential key to understanding Jaredite names, since Kish was a principal city in ancient Sumer. I was not the first to note the Mesopotamian link to Kish (Roper 2014).
As with all research I undertake, I am not interested in formulating my research pathway based on the interest of promoters or detractors of the Book of Mormon, or for popular consumption. My main goal is to apply the scientific method to the study of the Book of Mormon and see where that takes me. The research I do is fundamentally for my own enlightenment, but I feel it is also appropriate to place whatever I find into the public forum for public consumption (which tends to be a quite a light diet for serious material, I'm afraid). My research is in no way endorsed by the LDS Church. As anyone who has read my prior research is aware, it is not designed to be "faith promoting" in the sense that it sets out to prove any doctrinal or religious principle of any sort. My inquiries are basically dispassionate scientific approaches to various interesting questions in the Book of Mormon. One will find very little in them that is an attempt to persuade anyone to think anything (which unfortunately tends to make them a bit dry and boring). I try to carefully present the evidence and sources and limit conjecture and speculation. There are, of course, obvious religious implications to any effort that touches on the veracity of the Book of Mormon since it is, in fact, a religious text. No person with LDS affiliation (or not) should rely on my work as some sort of doctrinal revelation. It is, in the end, simply my scientific research.
Other scholars, such as anthropologist and Book of Mormon geographer John Sorenson (2013, 305), have suggested that Sumerian would be a possible etymological source for the Book of Mormon gold, silver and grain metrological (measurement) terms that could not be translated into English. Given the era and place of their origin, Sumerian is the probable original language of the Jaredites. The Jaredites appear to have directly influenced the language and culture of the Mulekites, who in turn merged with the Nephites. It is also likely that some Jaredite geographic and linguistic influence was widespread in Mesoamerica at the time of the arrival of the Nephites, so may have been incorporated by the Nephites in that fashion.
Exploring the Book of Mormon against the backdrop of Sumerian shows it to be a potential–and probable–source not only for these measurement terms, but for the other untranslatable words in the Book of Mormon and a great many of its names. As this work will show, all of the Book of Mormon's untranslatable words and a majority of its names can be derived from Sumerian roots. The fact that all of the glossed names/words provided in the Book of Mormon can be found fairly directly by compounds of Sumerian words is empirical evidence that Sumerian is their source language.