11 January 2012

Glossolalia can be fun

(reposted from 26 December 2007)

Sometimes, when I am alone, I just relax my brain and say aloud whatever syllables the brain feels like generating. Usually I get something that sounds vaguely like Swahili— ubamba lo jinka hagalaza and so forth— or something that sounds like ancient Chinese, lots of monosyllables ending in k, p, or t.

This practice is called glossolalia, also known in some religions as speaking in tongues. Some view it as a sacred or supernatural experience. A neuroscience blogger called Neurocritic wrote an interesting article about it last year and received several replies from people who do glossolalia in the religious way.

But I find non-religious glossolalia to be rewarding in its own way, perhaps a form of relaxation or meditation for the language-processing parts of the brain. Maybe it's the brain's way of telling me what kind of conlangs it really wants to create. I invite you to try it.

Neurocritic's article describes a brain-scan study of a group of individuals who were speaking in tongues. It would be interesting to see brain-scan research done on conlangers. I would expect the language areas of our brains to be better developed and more active than the average person's, but that's just conjecture.


hatmair said...

im 50 years old man who can spek in tongues i called this phenomen-entanuan anaguah spontaneous laungage i dont thats its only speech without meaning Because i found specific cod fonosemantic cod,of this procces this one example Veradu barti sera konja vere fali serkies ar pendar vetiom basi sintiliezo entunsera Varda si paltiriro cormedar vardasi portirire cormedar istiedo cormedar..This very popular song also a titlle of film with very famous english group I hope that you wii guess which song it is

Anonymous said...

I've had glossolalia for as long as I can remember; I can talk, argue, and even sing. It occurs both compulsively and by choice, although I've found that I have some slight difficulty returning to real speech once I've started. I tend to do it when alone (especially in the car or shower) although I've noticed lately it's happening around other people with more frequency. I was not raised faithful, so it was never connected or caused by any religious belief or emotion. It was just a sudden switch from real speech to something else, an odd tic I had that I tried very carefully to conceal from other people, even my parents, in case it revealed a mental illness.
I have not been able to find more information that isn't coloured by religious interpretation. In fact, I feel less comfortable with it now than I did before, having learned of the religious associations (please do not interpret this as a dismissal of religion, merely the fear of being stereotyped rather than taken seriously).
I'm really glad to find someone who has similar experiences.

(I have also posted to the Neurocritic blog, so you'll forgive me if my posts sound similar)

Unknown said...

I've been able to speak in glossolalia since I was a child. I can switch back and forth at will, but have lately been having an upsurge in the compulsion to do so. So much so that I am finding it difficult to keep from bursting into glossolalia in public. I am feeling like this has become an issue of psychology as I am NOT religious.

Anonymous said...

I don`t speak in tongues and I want to ask those who speak: how can I learn to do this? what should I do to start speaking? just say any syllables and sounds which are coming into my mind? or something else? or you use any special techniques to get into this state? Can you give any instructions? Thanks.