from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Knowledge of a language one has never learned.
  • n. Glossolalia.


From Ancient Greek ξενογλωσσία (ksenoglōssia), from ξένος (ksenos, "foreign") and γλῶσσα (glōssa, "language"). (Wiktionary)


  • In other words, the subject very quickly learns to express itself by means of a true "xenoglossy," i.e. by means of a language that may be clear to other people although it probably is not understood by the animal or medium making use of it.

    Lola or, The Thought and Speech of Animals

  • Of course, even after the development of this "xenoglossy," it is difficult either to admit or to refuse to admit some remainder of self-conscious co-operation by the animal in its "answers."

    Lola or, The Thought and Speech of Animals

  • Well-documented reports of xenoglossy are rare, however, although Ian Stevenson has reviewed several cases.11

    Experiencing the Next World Now

  • So if an entranced medium speaks responsively in a language she never learned—a phenomenon known as responsive xenoglossy—someone who did slowly acquire the skill must be speaking through her.

    Experiencing the Next World Now

  • Responsive xenoglossy should count as evidence for survival.

    Experiencing the Next World Now

  • religious fundamentalists responsive xenoglossy retrocognition

    Experiencing the Next World Now

  • O, foolish bee! ") found in English textbooks for foreign learners; the drifting semantics of" refute ", which is increasingly used to mean" reject "or" deny "rather than" logically disprove "; gloof, spooce, gloof twain, spooce, gairk, the use of ShortTalk, unambiguous command phrases for voice-controlled dictation software; the linguistically dubious evidence for xenoglossy; and of course the perennial question of Inuit snow words.

    Language Log


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  • JM would be keen to hear of anyone with direct experience of xenoglossy.

    February 1, 2009

  • Even drops cameos in the whiffy jacket pockets of Javanese mystics ;-)

    May 19, 2008

  • John's everywhere, isn't he?

    May 19, 2008

  • I've seen it done. I'm not quite sure what to believe. I know the person I witnessed cannot speak English well and yet he managed it under a trance, while supposedly possessed by an American called John.


    May 19, 2008

  • The ability to speak a language without having learned it.

    This sounds like a really neat trick if you can manage it.

    However, a typical place to find this rare word is the Journal of Parapsychology. That’s because the ability is regarded as a psychic phenomenon. It might come about because a person has been regressed to a previous incarnation through hypnosis. Or a medium might be in communication with a spirit person who speaks another language. The OED dates its first appearance to 1914; it’s from Greek xenos, stranger or foreigner, plus glossa, language; another spelling is xenoglossia.

    It sounds as if it’s related to speaking in tongues, which is regarded among Christian groups such as the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements as evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit (though the phenomenon is found in many religions and has been recorded from the earliest historical times); the formal term for that is glossolalia (the second half from Greek lalia, speech).

    But from a language point of view the difference is profound: in xenoglossy the implication is that a real language is being spoken that is intelligible to native speakers and in which the person can converse, while glossolalia is a succession of meaningless syllables interpretable only through faith.

    (from World Wide Words)

    May 19, 2008