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Phonetic Analysis of Glossolalia in Four Cultural Settings

Felicitas D. Goodman
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 8, No. 2 (Autumn, 1969), pp. 227-239
DOI: 10.2307/1384336
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1384336
Page Count: 13
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Phonetic Analysis of Glossolalia in Four Cultural Settings
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Abstract

Glossolalia tape-recorded from four groups--English- and Spanish-speaking--showed characteristics common to all groups. It is a noncommunicative behavior of vocalization. Although the phonetic inventory and the grouping of sounds vary somewhat from group to group, these are stereotyped within the group and rigidly adhered to. An analysis of the phonology, accent pattern, and intonation shows the individual utterance to have a threshold of onset, a brief rising gradient of intensity, a peak, and a final, often precipitous decay. This paper proposes that this agreement, despite cultural diversity and difference in language, exists because glossolalia is an artifact of a dissociative state termed trance. A brief characterization of the role of this little researched state is attempted on the basis of field experiences, and a comparison with similar manifestations in other areas.

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