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Royal Skousen’s argument against the authenticity of the “Chicago Leaves” centers around the usage of “Lamunites” in Alma 3:20, which appears notably out of character. However, there’s an intriguing aspect to this anomaly: if we accept the conventional belief that Mosiah was the initial book transcribed, and the introduction of the Lamanites occurred at the conclusion of the translation (1 Nephi), then the term “Lamanite(s)” is first introduced in Mosiah 7 and sparingly used until the latter chapters of Mosiah. Unfortunately, the absence of the Book of Mosiah in the Original Manuscript makes a direct comparison impossible.

Alma 3:20, situated on page 177 of the Printer’s Manuscript (PM), presents an interesting observation. The term “Lamanites” is followed by the same term with a strikethrough, a rare occurrence. Typically, a corrected word would immediately succeed or be indicated with a caret mark. This instance might be the sole case of a strikethrough after correct spelling in the PM. If we rely on the transcription from the Joseph Smith Papers (JSP) website, both occurrences are “Lamanites” – no caret mark, with only the latter being struck through.

The placement of a strikethrough after the correct word is peculiar enough, but further, the second term is struck through three times, effectively boxing it in. This likely held significance for Scribe 2, possibly indicating an error in the Original Manuscript, such as, “The word ‘Lamunites’ is incorrect in the OM and should be ‘Lamanites’ as shown in the preceding word.” Dismissing this occurrence in the PM as insignificant, especially knowing from the Chicago Leaves that it was spelled with a “u” in the same verse, seems challenging, particularly considering the triple strikethrough in the PM.

Moreover, on page 293 of the PM (Alma 49:21), “Nephites” is inserted to rectify the mistake of “Lamanites.” It’s plausible that the letter “a” could indeed be a “u”; just above that line, the word “Lamanites” appears to have been modified from “u” to “a.”

A less compelling argument involves dissecting the second term and considering if the letter is actually a “u,” potentially hinted at by a slight flourish on the right stem of the letter. Alternatively, it’s posited that Scribe 2 employed a technique to flag the error by adding a circle to the bottom of the upper strikethrough line – a sort of code. While speculative, until another theory arises, this interpretation remains plausible.

In conclusion, the placement of a strikethrough after the correct word remains a significant mystery, necessitating further research into its purpose, potentially serving as a marker for an error in the Original Manuscript.