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 Do ghosts understand modern English?

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the_holy_ferret



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PostSubject: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Wed 16 Apr 2008, 2:00 pm

This question is something that occured to me after watching some programme on late night sky TV in which a couple of alleged mediums managed to make contact with a ghost from the 16th century and have a conversation with him in modern English, sporting two very heavy Lancashire accents I might add.

Now whilst 16th century English isn't that drastically different to modern English and it's not too hard to follow if you've studied it for any short period, I'm doubting the reverse is true. So one of three things is true here as I see it -

a) either that ghosts can understand modern English through listening to us somehow
b) mediums like the ones I described were misled by some mischevious spirit into believing they were talking to someone else
c) mediums like the ones I described are just full of it

Any thoughts?
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Ian
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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Wed 16 Apr 2008, 2:17 pm

I am sorely tempted to go for option C. However, perhaps there is something we should consider. Were they actually having a conversation and hearing voices talking back, or were they asking questions and getting some sort of psychic impression as to an answer. I am always wary of anyone who claims to have a straight up conversation with the spirit world......did you get that Sam?

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matt.h



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Wed 16 Apr 2008, 2:17 pm

I think this highlights the fact that, whilst mediums, psychics etc may well be able to sense information beyond the products of their own imaginations, their brains still interpret that information more than they perhaps realise
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mysteryshopper



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Thu 17 Apr 2008, 12:32 am

Are you sure they were talking to a ghost? As I think we discussed in another thread, I (and others) have never come across any report of a ghost actually talking at all. How did this alleged 'ghost' reply exactly?
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Mauro

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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Thu 17 Apr 2008, 7:32 am

Back when I was studying Ancient Greek and Latin our professor told us that while we may be able to understand perfectly what Strabo or Virgilius wrote down, we would probably be not able to understand a word they spoke. The koiné dialektos (Hellenistic-era Greek) in particular, being the common language of the Ancient World from Cape Finisterre to the Indus, was probably spoken with such a dazing array of inflections and accents as to be unintelligible to a modern scholar.
We are all familiar with Shakespeare's and Cervantes' splendid works and we image their characters interpreted by great actors with a complete mastery of the tongue, hence we come to believe that all English and Spanish citizens spoke equally well with a perfectly understandable accent. But I bet that Falstaff's rag-tag troop would not have been so well-spoken and easy to understand in real life.
To quote an example Walter Wentz had serious problems understanding the oldest Bretons and Scots he was interviewing for his work on the Good People and often had to resort to an interpreter depite being an accomplished linguist.
Katie King, the most famous spirit guide from the Spiritualist era, has appeared at a number of seances around the world and spoke in such diverse languages as English, French and Italian, yet nobody seemed to bothered, since Spiritualists believe that spirits have gained incredible powers in Afterlife.
Must be child's play fro them to speak any language they fancy...
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matt.h



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Thu 17 Apr 2008, 8:43 am

A digression, but - how do mediums who claim to work with African or Native Indian spirit guides understand them?

Did Sam go to the great language school in the sky?
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the_holy_ferret



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Fri 18 Apr 2008, 12:23 pm

mysteryshopper, I don't remember the exact specifics of what was said. The medium asked something like "can you tell us something that would prove your existence". The spirit allegedly told them something about the family history that the medium couldn't have known. It was definitely a dialogue, not just a yes/no affair.

Even if the medium was a fake, which I suspect is the most likely explanation, I don't think it drags any weight away from the original question. Even for spirits to be able to participate in simple yes/no questions they would HAVE to have learnt to understand modern accents and dialects as well as the subtle changes in words that have occurred over the years. Because even if they can't reply in modern English, they would at least have to be able to understand the questions being asked in the first place.
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mysteryshopper



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Fri 18 Apr 2008, 12:41 pm

Ah if they said it was a spirit that's different. It's this casual linking of ghosts with spirits that bothers me. There is no compelling evidence that ghosts are spirits at all.
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matt.h



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Fri 18 Apr 2008, 1:59 pm

Semantics aside, one speculative consideration would be whether the mode of communication between medium and spirit/ghost/baphomet/elemental/martian transcends language.
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Ian
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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Fri 18 Apr 2008, 3:04 pm

Quote :
Semantics aside, one speculative consideration would be whether the mode of communication between medium and spirit/ghost/baphomet/elemental/martian transcends language.

If this was so, why did John Dee need the Enochian language to talk to angels? Unless it was all a big con of course.

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matt.h



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Sat 19 Apr 2008, 6:04 am

Ian wrote:
Quote :
Semantics aside, one speculative consideration would be whether the mode of communication between medium and spirit/ghost/baphomet/elemental/martian transcends language.

If this was so, why did John Dee need the Enochian language to talk to angels? Unless it was all a big con of course.

Fair point - I'd suggest that it's whatever gets you in right "mediuming" frame of mind. Perhaps thats a bit of a Chaos approach?
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DJP

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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Sun 20 Apr 2008, 12:21 pm

Quote :
which a couple of alleged mediums managed to make contact with a ghost from the 16th century and have a conversation with him in modern English, sporting two very heavy Lancashire accents I might add.

I take it the mediums had heavy lancashire accents rather than the spirit Smile It got me thinking though: wouldn't each region have its own dialect. Lancashire dialect from 19th century is very hard to understand - I had a few books of Lancashire dialect poems that used to be my grans and they were a heavy going. So messages from a 'genuine' would most likley be in the dialect of their area. Option C.
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mysteryshopper



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Mon 21 Apr 2008, 10:59 am

The question of language and mediums is part of a broader problem. If you believe mediums, people often undergo a strange transformation when they 'pass over'. Instead of learning more about the universe from their new exalted position, they frequently know less than when they were alive. They often acquire a distressing tendency towards talking in New Age cliches.

They often forget things that were important to them when alive while becoming hugely interested in the seemingly trivial. Scientists seem suddenly incapable of describing even basic scientific theories accurately. Spirits in general seem sadly unable to describe the afterlife and finally settle the big questions, like which religion, if any, is right.
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matt.h



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Tue 22 Apr 2008, 1:57 am

I think there's a big gap between the "powers" that a lot of commercial mediums claim to possess, and the realities of (apparent) psychic experience.

The example of Derren Brown's work springs to mind. He quite rightly exposes the ways in which certain aspects of mediumship can be performed with skillful sleight of hand and psychological manipulation, but there are other far stranger experiences beyond the traditional sphere of "spirits surviving life after death" that have so far not been explained this way.
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Ian
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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Fri 25 Apr 2008, 3:30 am

Quote :
I think there's a big gap between the "powers" that a lot of commercial mediums claim to possess, and the realities of (apparent) psychic experience.

I agree with you there Matt and I don't actually know anyone who I believe who has had a stand up meaningful discussion with a dead person.

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matt.h



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Fri 25 Apr 2008, 4:03 am

I think this is where some get confused - psychic experience doesn't = life after death, yet the popular cultural perception would have you believe as much.

I think this is why many people wrongly see Derren Brown's performances as conclusive evidence that psychic powers do not exist.
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mysteryshopper



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Fri 25 Apr 2008, 4:35 am

matt.h wrote:
I think this is where some get confused - psychic experience doesn't = life after death, yet the popular cultural perception would have you believe as much.

You've got me confused now! What kind of psychic experience are you talking about here? Psychics overall claim is to be able to gain information through various paranormal means. Many claim this happens through spirits, though not all. Some may use psychometry, tarot or dowsing, for instance.

Could you, perhaps, clarify what you mean please?
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matt.h



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Fri 25 Apr 2008, 5:06 am

mysteryshopper wrote:
matt.h wrote:
I think this is where some get confused - psychic experience doesn't = life after death, yet the popular cultural perception would have you believe as much.

You've got me confused now! What kind of psychic experience are you talking about here? Psychics overall claim is to be able to gain information through various paranormal means. Many claim this happens through spirits, though not all. Some may use psychometry, tarot or dowsing, for instance.

Could you, perhaps, clarify what you mean please?

Okay... by "life after death" I mean the notion accepted by Spritiualists of a human living non-corporeally after the death of the body. Whilst some psychics may claim that it is the spirits of the dead that they contact with, other types of psychic experience - such as psychic questing - are not tied to this notion. It has been suggested that another possible cause is the collectiven conscious we were discussing elsewhere. Whilst this relies on survival of information after death, it does not hinge on a human itself living on after death.
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mysteryshopper



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Fri 25 Apr 2008, 5:40 am

matt.h wrote:
It has been suggested that another possible cause is the collectiven conscious we were discussing elsewhere. Whilst this relies on survival of information after death, it does not hinge on a human itself living on after death.

Why does such information have to be in a 'collective conscious'? It is claimed that people using remote viewing simply see a place in the world. If information exists in any physical form in the world, could it not simply be accessed directly, perhaps from an obscure document?

The only real thing we know for certain about psychics is that they claim to obtain information that they didn't previously know. They may claim that it comes spirits or other sources but the evidence for that is nor more than 'a bloke told me he was talking to a spirit'. So the central questions for me are:

a) did the psychic really not know the information before (perhaps accessing a memory they didn't realise they possessed) and if not
b) did they deduce it / guess it (like Derren Brown says he does) or
c) obtain it by some paranormal method, as they claim?
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matt.h



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PostSubject: Re: Do ghosts understand modern English?   Fri 25 Apr 2008, 6:47 am

[quote="mysteryshopper"]
matt.h wrote:
It has been suggested that another possible cause is the collectiven conscious we were discussing elsewhere. Whilst this relies on survival of information after death, it does not hinge on a human itself living on after death.

Why does such information have to be in a 'collective conscious'? It is claimed that people using remote viewing simply see a place in the world. If information exists in any physical form in the world, could it not simply be accessed directly, perhaps from an obscure document?

quote]

It doesn't - I was just providing an example of a theory for psychic experience that didn't rely on life after death. I agree that with many apparently psychic experiences there may well be rational explanations such as a latent memory or plain fraud.
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