A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife


The Book 4th Edition

<< Previous Chapter : Book Index : Next Chapter >>

22. Xenoglossy

“Even if telepathy were proved to be true,' an eminent biologist told William James, 'savants ought to band together to suppress and conceal it, because it would upset the uniformity without which scientists cannot carry on their pursuits.”
Quoted from Brian Inglis

One of the most amazing psychic phenomena, which religionists, skeptics and atheists have continuously and deliberately ignored is xenoglossy - the ability to speak or write a foreign language a person never learned.

After all other explanations have been investigated - such as fraud, genetic memory, telepathy and cryptomnesia (the remembering of a foreign language learned earlier), xenoglossy is taken as evidence of either memories of a language learned in a past life or of communication with a discarnate entity— a spirit person.

There are many cases on record of adults and children speaking and writing languages which they have never learned. Sometimes this happens spontaneously but more often it occurs while the person is under hypnosis or in an altered state of consciousness. In some cases it is only a few words remembered but in other cases the person becomes totally fluent and able to converse with native speakers sometimes in obscure dialects which have not been in use for centuries.

Dr Morris Netherton reports one case of a blond, blue-eyed eleven year old boy who under hypnosis was taped for eleven minutes as he spoke in an ancient Chinese dialect. When the tape was taken to a professor at the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of California it turned out to be a recitation from a forbidden religion of Ancient China (Fisher 1986:202).

American medium George Valentine under trance conducted seances in Russian, German, Spanish and Welsh. The Brazilian medium Carlos Mirabelli spoke and wrote long technical documents in more than thirty languages including Syrian and Japanese in the presence of scientists and crowds up to 5,000 (Lazarus 1993: 121).

In 1977 doctors at a state penitentiary in Ohio, USA, discovered that a convicted rapist named Billy Mulligan had become possessed by two new personalities, both of whom communicated in a different language. Mulligan was born and raised in the USA and spoke no foreign languages. But when taken over by Abdul, Mulligan could read and write in perfect Arabic; as Rugen he spoke perfect Serbo-Croat with a thick Slavic accent (Lazarus 1993: 83).

The most obvious explanations of these kinds of cases are either deliberate fraud or that the person concerned learnt the language in early childhood without being aware of it. Careful investigators always take care to thoroughly investigate these two possibilities.

Dr Ian Stevenson

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 behavior 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.

Author Lyall Watson describes a case of a ten year old child, an Igarot Indian living in the remote Cagayon Valley in the Philippines. The child had never had any contact with any language or culture other than his own. Yet under trance conditions the child communicated freely in Zulu, a language he could not have even heard. Watson only recognized it because he had spent his early life in Africa (cited by Lazarus 1993: 84).

Peter Ramster; an Australian psychotherapist, has documented several thoroughly investigated cases. In his book The Search for Lives Past (Ramster 1990 : 227) he cites the case of Cynthia Henderson whose only contact with the French language had been a few months of very basic instruction in Year 7 of high school. Yet under hypnosis she was able to carry on a long and detailed conversation in French with a native speaker who commented that she spoke without any English accent and in the manner of the eighteenth century.
In some cases subjects under trance have communicated in languages no longer in use or known only to a handful of experts.

Dr Joel Whitton cites the case of Harold Jaworski who under hypnosis wrote down twenty-two words and phrases which he 'heard' himself speaking in a past Viking life. Working independently, linguists identified and translated ten of these words as Old Norse and several of the others as Russian, Serbian or Slavic. All were words associated with the sea ( Whitton and Fisher 1987: 210).

In 1931 a young English girl from Blackpool, known as Rosemary in the files of the Society for Psychical Research, began to speak in an ancient Egyptian dialect under the influence of the personality of Telika-Ventiu who had lived in approximately 1400 BC. In front of Egyptologist Howard Hume she wrote down 66 accurate phrases in the lost language of hieroglyphs and spoke in a tongue unheard outside academic circles for thousands of years (Lazarus 1993: 85).

Pearl Curgen, a medium from Saint Louis who was barely literate, began to write in astonishingly accurate Middle English. Under the guidance of a spirit entity she produced sixty novels, plays and poems, including a 60,000 word epic poem (Lazarus 1993: 119).

Telepathy or genetic memory

In addition to fraud and cryptomnesia, two other 'explanations' sometimes given by skeptics for xenoglossy are 'telepathy' or 'genetic memory'. Yet there has never been, anywhere in the world, one documented case of a person being able to speak a foreign language they learned by telepathy.

The other so-called 'explanation' — genetic memory is equally difficult to take seriously. The claim that somehow an Ancient Chinese language became embedded in the genes of an eleven year old Caucasian American enabling him to speak the language is laughable.

There are literally thousands of xenoglossic cases, many hundreds of which have been documented. They involve modern and ancient languages from all over the world. Psychic investigators, such the highly credible Dr Ian Stevenson, used scientific method to illustrate xenoglossy and claim that there are only two possible explanations—either spirit contact or past life memory both of which are evidence for the afterlife.

The onus shifts onto the skeptic to provide an alternative credible explanation. So far no-one has been able to do so.

Accordingly, in the absence of any other credible explanation and in context of the other existing hard-core evidence for the afterlife—electronic voice phenomena and mediumship—xenoglossy becomes easy to accept as further hard-core evidence for survival.


<< Previous Chapter : Book Index : Next Chapter >>


Home | The Book | Radio FAQs | Articles | Hall of Fame
Appearances | About Victor | Links | Contact

Copyright © 2001 Victor Zammit.  All rights reserved.  --  
Web site by happysean