Sunday, April 24, 2005


Speaking in Tongues

Ronald A. Knox, Enthusiasm (1950; rpt. New York: Oxford University Press, 1961), p. 553:
It is commonly the energumen's own impression that he is talking in a foreign language he has never learned, but capable of being interpreted, without further miracle, by a trained linguist. We have seen that the Chevalier Folard was credited, on slender grounds, with talking Slavonic. Mary Campbell announced that she was speaking in Turkish, or in the language of the Pelew Islands, and thought of going out to convert the heathen by this means. They took fewer risks than Mr. Lacy, the adherent of the French prophets, who discoursed at large in Latin, and is reproved by Nathaniel Spinckes for crediting the Holy Spirit with a large number of solecisms in that language, duly set out in a footnote.

It must be confessed, however, that the characteristic specimens of Irvingite glossolaly which have been preserved to us are beyond the reach of any lexicon. Such utterances as 'Hippo gerosto niparos boorastin farini O fastor sungor boorinos epoongos menati,' or 'Hey amei hassan alla do hoc alors loore has heo massan amor ho ti prov his aso me,' hardly bear out the claim that 'the languages are distinct, well-inflected, well-compacted languages.' The philology of another world does not abide our question, but if we are to judge these results by merely human standards, we must admit that a child prattles no less convincingly.

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