Archive for the ‘glossolalia’ Category

D. A. Carson on the phenomena of ‘tongues’

November 11, 2009

To my knowledge there is universal agreement among linguists who have taped and analyzed thousands of examples of modern tongues-speaking that the contemporary phenomenon is not any human language. The patterns and structures that all known languages require are simply not there.  Occasionally a recognizable word slips out; but this is statistically likely, given the sheer quantity of verbalization. Jaquette’s conclusion is unavoidable: “we are dealing here not with language, but with verbalizations which superficially resemble language in certain of its structural aspects.” When studies have been made of tongues uttered in different cultures and linguistic environments, several startling conclusions have presented themselves. The tongues phenomena have been related to the speaker’s natural language (e.g., a German or French tongues-speaker will not use one of the two English “th” sounds; and English tongues-speakers will never include the “u” sound of French “cru”). Moreover, the stereotypical utterance of any culture “mirrors that of the person who guided the glossolalist into the behavior. There is little variation of sound patterns within the group arising around a particular guide,” even though other studies show that the tongues patterns of each speaker are usually identifiable from those of others, and a few tongues-speakers use two or more discrete patterns. In any case, modern tongues are lexically uncommunicative and the few instances of reported modern xenoglossia are so poorly attested that no weight can be laid on them.
D. A. Carson, Showing the Spirit, 83-84