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See J. P. Kildahl, The Psychology of Speaking in Tongues (1972); G. T. Montague, The Spirit and His Gifts (1974).
Glossolalia(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
From the Greek glossa, “tongue,” and lalia, “chatter,” glossolalia is the term used for “speaking in tongues.” Sometimes at religious gatherings or in séances, someone will go into a trance and start speaking in an unknown language. Many times witnesses to such an event will make extravagant claims, such as that the person was “Speaking in ancient Egyptian” or that they were “speaking Greek.” It is not known exactly what ancient Egyptians sounded like, and unless there was someone present who could actually verify that language, there can be no evidence for such utterances. Far more frequently the speech is utter gibberish. In fact, one definition of glossolalia is “speaking in pseudo-tongues”. Professor Charles Richet (1850–1935) preferred the term Xenoglossis, which covered both speaking and writing in unknown languages, whether real or pseudo.
Nandor Fodor reports that in the pamphlet Drei Tage in Gros Almerode written by a theological student of Leipzig, J. Busching, there is information on ten cases of xenoglossis at a religious revival at Almerode, Hesse, in 1907. He said, “The phenomena began with a hissing or peculiar gnashing sound. These sounds were caused by the subject, not wishing to disturb the order of service by interrupting a prayer already commenced, exerting himself to repress the inward impulse acting on his organs of speech. But all that had to come came, and the momentarily repressed glossolalies only burst forth with increased vigor.”
The Spiritualist medium Laura Edmonds, daughter of Judge John Worth Edmonds (1816–1874), claimed the gift of tongues. Although normally she could speak only English and a smattering of French, while entranced by Spirit she spoke a large number of different languages with great fluency, including Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Latin, and Hungarian. Indian dialects were also identified. These phenomena and many others were all very meticulously recorded by her father. She was possibly the first Spiritualist medium to exhibit glossolalia. According to Emma Hardinge Britten, medium Jenny Keyes sang in Italian and Spanish, languages with which she was not familiar.
(1) The phenomenon in which the speaker pronounces meaningless words and word combinations preserving only a few characteristics of speech (tempo and rhythm, syllable structure, and comparative frequency of various sounds); encountered in patients with certain mental illnesses.
(2) An element of religious cultism found in several primitive religions—for example, shamanism and a few Christian sects. Often, particularly in religious sects, the speaker is subjectively convinced that he is speaking some actually existing language. Zaum’ (poetic language using words regardless of their meaning) and certain forms of emotionally burdened speech are related to glossolalia. Thus, K. I. Chukovskii described a case of glossolalia in a mother’s addressing her child.
REFERENCEKonovalov, D. G. Religioznyi ekstaz v russkom misticheskom sektantstve. Sergiev Posad, 1908.
A. A. LEONT’EV