VERIFICATION OF THE SPEECH OF AN UNLEARNED LANGUAGE
William H. Kautz, Sc.D.
Abstract: Xenoglossy is the alleged phenomenon of human speech in a real language never learned by its speaker. In both scientific and lay terms such performance is ostensibly impossible. While many instances have been claimed to occur, all of them disqualify as genuine xenoglossy, either because the speech was not a real language, the speaker may have already been exposed to it, the sample was too small to be evaluated, or the case was deliberately fabricated. It is still not certain if such unlearned speech is even possible.
If we can show that xenoglossy has actually occurred, it would at least offer a potential for recovering lost languages. Surely most important, though, it would supply strong evidence that human consciousness is preserved beyond bodily death. This is the classical survival problem, not a mystery in many of the world’s cultures but still unresolved in Western scientific, philosophic, and common terms.
We examine here a particular case of foreign sounding speech, spoken by a British medium in the early 20th century and claimed to be Late Egyptian from the 14th century BCE.5,6 It was dismissed as invalid by scholars at the time, mainly because its transcriber, who was unfamiliar with either linguistics or scientific procedure, announced the case in the psychic and popular presses and made unsubstantiated claims for its significance.
This case merits fresh attention because (1) the medium’s speech, containing 5000 language phrases, was phonetically and meticulously transcribed; (2) its transcription, 44 large notebooks over 30 years, is too voluminous and detailed to have been fabricated, even by an experienced scholar; (3) the medium could not possibly have learned the putative language, the last remnants of which were spoken in 400 CE; and (4) its written dialect, well preserved in many hieroglyphs and papyruses, contains no vowels and is therefore unpronounceable.
Examination of the original transcriptions and a careful study (1973–4) of the background of the case confirmed these historical facts and qualified it as a legitimate candidate for showing intuitive perception, thus genuine xenoglossy. If the language spoken can be shown to be a real language, the example is self-verifying by its very existence, without consensus or detailed linguistic analysis.
A novel intelligibility test between (1) the intuitive’s speech and (2) a vocalized version of written Egyptian was devised and implemented. It successfully confirmed that the medium spoke a genuine dialect of written Late Egyptian. Xenoglossy is therefore proven as an anomalous but valid phenomenon, and its implications on both linguistics and the survival issue are substantiated. Moreover, it shows that the mental faculty of intuition is capable of providing not just isolated facts and explanations but communication with the full intricacy of a spoken human language. Intuitive recovery of other lost languages and complex bodies of lost information should now be possible.