Dr Ian Stevenson defines xenoglossy as`speaking a real language entirely unknown to [the speaker] in his ordinary state’. As Stevenson notes there are numerous published reports of cases of xenoglossy, but most of them contain too little information to permit a test of their validity.
Dr Ian Stevenson is one of the most respected scientists in the United States. He has done specialized research into xenoglossy and his book Xenoglossy (Stevenson 1974) is one of the leading scientific studies in this area. In it he documents a study he made of a 37 year old American woman. Under hypnosis she experienced a complete change of voice and personality into that of a male. She spoke fluently in the Swedish language—a language she did not speak or understand when in the normal state of consciousness.
Dr Stevenson’s direct involvement with this case lasted more than eight years. The study involved linguists and other experts and scientists who meticulously investigated every alternative explanation.
Fraud was ruled out for number of substantive reasons which Stevenson outlines in his study. The subject and her physician husband were thoroughly investigated. They were under extreme and continuous close scrutiny, did not want publicity and agreed to the publication of the study only if their names were changed to protect their privacy. Both the husband and wife were considered by their local community to be honest and decent and their behaviour exemplary. Certainly there was no motive for personal profit. On the contrary they experienced a great deal of inconvenience to fully complete the study over many years.
Cryptomnesia—the recollection of a foreign language learned in the earlier years of a person’s life was also ruled out. Years of investigation of the subject failed to raise any possible suggestion that either she or her parents had learnt the Swedish language in her younger years or associated with anyone Swedish.
Another case Stevenson investigated with equal care was reported in the July 1980 edition of the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research. It involved an Indian woman named Uttar Huddar who at aged 32 spontaneously took on the personality of a housewife of West Bengal in the early 1800s. She began speaking Bengali instead of her own language Marathi. For days or weeks at a time speakers of Bengali had to be brought in to enable her to communicate with her own family. (Victor Zammit)
Xenoglossy in the bible: Descent of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:1-11
“1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God”.