Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 1637

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1637. Among the marvels that occur in the next life is the fact that spirits speak to man in his own mother tongue. They speak it with the fluency and skill of one born in the same country and brought up using the same tongue. This is so whether they come from Europe, or from Asia, or from some other part of the world, including those who lived thousands of years before that tongue had come into being. Indeed when speaking to man the spirits know no other than that the language they are using is their own and that of their own country. The same is also the case with the foreign languages which a person has learned. But beyond these, spirits are not able to utter one sound of another language unless they are directly enabled to do so by the Lord. Even little children who have died before learning to talk in any language speak in the same way.

[2] The reason for this is that the language with which spirits are familiar is not a language composed of words but a language composed of ideas comprising thought. This language is the universal of all languages; and when spirits are present with someone on earth the ideas comprising their thought fall into words which belong to that person's vocabulary. This takes place in such a corresponding and fitting manner that the spirits know no other than that those words are their own and that they are speaking in their own language, when in fact they are speaking in the person's language. I have spoken on several occasions to spirits about these matters. All souls, the moment they enter the next life, receive this gift of being able to understand what all people in any part of the world are saying, just as if they had been born among those people, for they perceive whatever a person is thinking. In addition to this they receive other abilities which are more perfect still. This explains why after death of the body souls are able to talk to and mix with all people, no matter what region these came from or what language they spoke.

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