Friday, April 20, 2012


"Glossolalia or speaking in tongues is the fluid vocalizing (or less commonly, the writing of), speech-like syllables which lack any readily comprehended meaning." 

So sayeth Wikipedia, and who am I to question so august an authority as Wikipedia? The fact is that I find myself submerged in a world of glossolalia. I assume I speak English, the language of my people, but from the look of total incomprehension on the faces of those to whom I am trying to logically express a point, I assume I am in fact speaking Glossolalian. (As long as I'm speaking a made-up language, I might as well use made-up words.)

Interestingly, while I am far less prone to written Glossolalia than spoken, it extends into all areas of my comprehension. I am totally incapable of understanding written directions of any kind, and the more steps the directions involve, the more Glossolalian they become. Purchasing a box of crackers and reading the directions "To open, lift flap" or "Press down, lift up" can send me into paroxysms of anxiety and frustration. Attempting to follow those four simple words leads, five times out of six, to my standing amid a pile of shredded packaging and crackers scattered over a radius of ten feet.

Glossolalia is the preferred language of the internet and seemingly required for instructions for joining internet sites or downloading programs. I, for whom patience is far more rare than hens' teeth, have spent untold hours scrolling down through page after page of questions which I must answer in order to either join or download, only to hit "Submit" or "Download" and receive a blanket "Error" message or find myself with no explanation back at the start of the process. I justify my hitting "Delete" with a hammer by telling myself I already belong to more sites/have more downloads than I can handle. And I hardly need to point out that Glossolalia and internet spam are synonymous.

Glossolalia's power derives largely from the natural human desire not to appear stupid to others. It is, as a rule, simply easier to go along with whatever you're being told than to admit that you don't understand it.

For many, Glossolalia is the epitome of the moral of the Emperor's New Clothes. People will go to great lengths to avoid admitting that they have no idea whatsoever of what they've just been told. Far better, and far more common, to simply assume a look of deep thought and mumble "Yes, yes! How very true and profound."

Politicians speak fluent Glossolalian, and do so with such ease and authority that the listener assumes that it it is his/her fault for not having a clue as to what the politician is talking about.

Advertisers are also experts in Glossolalian. Though I have heard the term "...for well-qualified buyers" at least ten-thousand times, I still have no idea whatsoever what a "well-qualified buyer" is. Many advertisers are under the impression that glossolalian promises combined with speaking as loudly and in as excited a manner as possible will make the cheese in their mousetrap irresistible to prospective buyers.

Perhaps it is just the fact that I have been aged out of mainstream music, but I sincerely believe that the "lyrics" of popular music are far more based in glossolalia than in meaningful thought. Peppering a song...or speech...with explicatives is in fact a common form of glossolalia.

One day I might wake up and suddenly everything I hear, see, or read will make perfect sense, and glossolalia will be just another arcane word. But I doubt it. 

'Ya know what I'm sayin'?

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs ( ).


Kage Alan said...

So, shall I walk you through Google Analytics now so you can monitor who's on your site, where they're from, the keywords they used to find you and what blog post they're reading? It soooooo simple! Just a few 10 or 20 steps to get you going... heh heh heh

If it's any consolation, I learn most everything by default because I stumbled across it.

Dorien/Roger said...

Yes, please do walk me--or rather drag me kicking and screaming--through Google Analytics. I feel like a good blubber.