Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Speaking in Tongues is Babbling

In a massive study of glossolalia from a linguistic perspective by Professor William J. Samarin of the University of Toronto's Department of Linguistics published after more than a decade of careful research, he rejected the view that glossolalia is xenoglossia, i.e. some foreign language that could be understood by another person who knew that language. Samarin concluded that glossolalia is a "pseudo-language." He defined glossolalia as "unintelligible babbling speech that exhibits superficial phonological similarity to language, without having consistent syntagmatic structure and that is not systematically derived from or related to known language." (William J. Samarin, "Variation and Variables in Religious Glossolalia," Language in Society, ed. Dell Haymes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972 pgs. 121-130)

Hmmmm. Who would have guessed? Self-deception? See Jeremiah 23:16-40.



Terry said...

I'm guessing that the researchers were not looking at biblical examples...not every case of glossolalia is babbling.

Phil Sanders said...


the only glossalalia he was examining was the modern variety. You are correct in saying that the examples in Acts and 1 Corinthians were actual languages. I will be preaching on this in a few weeks and will do a follow lesson on miracles today. I believe in NT miracles, but I see no evidence of the kind of miracles they performed being done today.


Terry said...

Thanks for clarifying. I thought that the original post was a little broad. A few months ago, I was asked by a co-worker, "Does the Church of Christ believe in speaking in tongues?" I almost answered "No. That would not be typical in Churches of Christ." Then, I realized that the vast majority of us acknowledge that it really happened in the early days of the church.