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Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Thing To Wish To Perform Today Until You Think About It: xenoglossia.

There's a Tom and Jerry cartoon where Tom learns to play the piano. He sits down at the stool, reads Page One of his piano tutor, and plays the single note indicated. Then he turn the page and plays two notes...and so on and so on until in about, ooh, ten seconds or so, he is a dazzling virtuoso.

I've been playing the piano really quite badly for over fifty years, and I taught piano for twenty nine of them, and, oh, I do wish it was like that!

I feel rather the same way about xenoglossia. It's a talent claimed by some clairvoyants, and it means being able to speak a language with which one is unfamiliar.

It would be nice, wouldn't it, to be able suddenly to burst forth in Serbo-Croat, or Southern Min, or Rundi, or Sylheti?

The trouble is, even if we could, would we have the faintest clue what we were saying?

Dangerous, dangerous stuff, is xenoglossia

Thing To Wish To Perform Today Until You Think About It: xenoglossia. Xeno- comes from the Greek xenos, which means strange. The Greek glossa means tongue.

Here, beginning at at 4.22, is an example of spoken Southern Min:

Wouldn't it be completely appalling to find oneself joining in, without knowing what one was saying?

Be careful what you wish for...

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