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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

Wondrous Words Wednesday … 18th May 2011

Both of my words this week, come from a book I have just finished and enjoyed immensely:

‘South Of Hell‘ by P.J. Parrish

Click The Image To View Full Synopsis

Page 258:

‘The second book was by a Canadian psychiatrist named, Ian Stevenson, ‘Unlearned Language: New Studies In Xenoglossy‘.’

Xenoglossy: A paranormal phenomenon in which a person is able to speak a language that he or she could not have acquired by natural means.

Page 181:

‘ “So, you’re saying Amy is mixing real memories of the farm with things from her imagination?” Louis asked.

Dr. Sher nodded. “It’s called confabulation.” ‘


1. To talk casually: chat

2. Psychology: To fill in gaps in one’s memory with fabrications that one believes to be facts. It consists of the creation of false memories, perceptions, or beliefs about the self or the environment – usually as a result of neurological or psychological dysfunction.

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.  It is hosted by Kathy, over at BermudaOnion’s Weblog.

If you want to play along, write a post, click the link here and add your link to Mr. Linky! Don’t forget that Kathy and the rest of us in Blogland, all love to receive comments as well!!


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I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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    • Hi Julie,

      I had heard of the conventional meaning of ‘confabulation’, so was a little confused when I saw it written in the context of the sentence, until I looked it up and realised that it also had a psychological meaning.

      I always think that the English language has to be one of the most strange, with the amount of words we have that have two or more completely diverse meanings. It’s amazing and totally confusing!!

    • Hi Nikki,

      I didn’t know of confabulation in the psychological sense, but it would be great if we could all get away with filling in gaps in our memory like that!!

      As for xenoglossy, a great sounding word and always one to hold in reserve, for that moment that you want to show off!!
      The sort of word that you would like to see as the answer to a question on ‘Mastermind’ or ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’, so that you can astound your friends and family with your expertise!!

    • Hi Bev,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Xenoglossy was a completely new word on me, if it didn’t have so many letters, it would be a great word for Scrabble!!

    • Hi Kathy,

      I hadn’t thought about Xenoglossy in that way, but it would certainly be a fantastic idea.

      Everyone says that Chinese is the language we will all need to know in the future, and Xenoglossy will definitely be the only way I shall be learning that at my age!!!

  • I’m so glad to get a word for a phenomenon I have observed. I’m talking about confabulation. As I’ve aged my memory gets fuzzier and I’ve noticed it happening to my friends and family as well. When we are talking about a common event I notice that others are “making up” things about the event that I’m sure didn’t happen. Of course, I’m doing the same thing. Now I can relax and tell myself it’s just confabulation. Thanks for the new word.

    • Hi Margot,

      I know exactly what you mean, but hadn’t really thought about it until you made the point.

      We are both in our 50s and I often find myself having to concentrate extra hard when talking about an event more than once, as I find myself making small changes to the story, without realising I am doing it.

      Hubbie tends to keep telling the same story over and over again and then wonders why our nieces look at him with something akin to the pity that we always used to associate as being reserved for the elderly!!!

      I don’t think that it will make him feel any better, if I tell him not to worry, we are just suffering from confabulation!!!

  • I know the medical usage of confabulation, but was very surprised at the other usage of it. It’s actually a word I’d be careful with taking up ladies as confabulation is most commonly seen in long term alcoholics who have addled their brains over the years, and have to make up things to patch in the holes in their memory. I too would be like to be struck by xenoglossy- I’m not doing so well with French by myself.

    • Hi Louise,

      Oops!! None of the dictionaries tell you that piece of important information, thanks for filling us in. Can’t speak for any of the others, but confabulation in the terms you have described it, definitely doesn’t apply to myself!! Any confabulation from which I suffer, is purely age related!!! LOL

      Languages are not my particular strong point either, which is terrible really. We Brits are lazy in that respect, we seem to expect that everyone else should be conversant in English, whilst we don’t feel the need to bother learning any other language and then proceed to ruin our own language into the bargain!!!

  • Xenoglossy and confabulation, are new to me in English and …in French ! I’d like to have (use?) xenoglossy to improve my english level !

    • Hello Annie,

      Thanks for visiting my blog, it is always good to ‘meet’ new people.

      I am ashamed that I have to reply to you and translate your blog into English, we English are notoriously lazy at learning other languages, almost every other country puts us to shame.

      My schooltime French is pretty basic and was a long time ago, so I would be guessing at quite a lot of the words.

      Xenoglossy would come in very useful at a time like this!!!

  • I like confabulation! I didn’t know the other one, either. and I doubt I’ll remember if I ever come across it again.

    • Hello Care,

      Thanks for stopping by, it is always good to ‘meet’ new people.

      I loved the sound of both these words and it would be great to just be able to drop them into a conversation sometime, but like yourself, the opportunity will present itself and I won’t be able to recall the word quickly enough to have the desired impact!!

      When I see great words like these, that are new to me, it really makes me want to return to studying, to try and improve both my general knowledge and my knowledge of the written and spoken word, of what is my native, but completely under-used first language.

Written by Yvonne