The Gift of Tongues
The Gift of Tongues, sometimes called glossolalia, is a charism (gift of grace) enabling its recipient to speak in an unaccustomed language. Interpreters disagree about the nature of this gift, which is mentioned in the New Testament. Some understand it as a miraculous but temporary ability to speak in foreign languages. Others consider it an ecstatic's utterances that are incomprehensible to bystanders.
The best-known instance of this gift occurred on the day of Pentecost, when Christ's disciples "were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in strange tongues" (Acts 2:4). Some interpret this event as a gift of elocution, by means of which a person is enabled to speak in an otherwise foreign language. Others consider it as a gift of audition, by means of which those hearing a speaker talking in his own language are enabled to understand him in their own.
The early church considered the gift of tongues a genuine gift of the Holy Spirit. Since such speaking was frequently unintelligible without an interpreter, St. Paul advised regulating its use (1 Corinthians 14). In some Pentecostal churches the phenomenon is still common. More traditional and conservative churches are inclined to view talking in tongues with considerable reservations.