Seven posts beneath this one is a little paper I wrote, Kevin L. Barney, “On the Etymology of Deseret,” BCC Papers 1/2, November 2006, in which I argued for a possible Semitic etymology of the word deseret. In the comments, Matt W. mentioned that his father-in-law, Walt Cowart, had written Hugh Nibley asking about a similar idea back in December of 1981, and had received a response. I assumed Matt had misunderstood the nature of the correspondence, but he produced it, and indeed Walt had posed basically the same idea I put forward in my paper. So this is an amazing opportunity to see Nibley critique this idea, from beyond the grave, as it were, in a letter he wrote 25 years ago. As a long-time Nibleyophile, I thought this was incredibly cool, so rather than bury it in the comments to the original thread, I am posting a new thread here.
Walt’s original letter to Nibley may be read here.
Nibley’s response may be read here.
My thanks to Walt for graciously giving us permission to publish these letters, and to Matt W. for recognizing their relevance to my paper.