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DO GHOSTS SPEAK?

A Portrait Of The Poet, Charles Baudelaire  (1821-1867) Surrounded By Ghosts. 1917 Illustration By Georges Rochegrosse

A Portrait Of The Poet, Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) Surrounded By Ghosts. 1917 Illustration By Georges Rochegrosse

Can A Ghost Talk? And If So, What Do They Say?

In their book, Apparitions, Celia Green and Charles McCreery conclude that it is rare for a ghost to say anything during a manifestation. Of the 1,800 people who in two British surveys reported that they had experienced a ghost, only 14 percent claimed to have heard it talk as well as seen it. Another 14 percent said they had heard a ghost make some sort of sound—though not usually speech—without actually seeing the ghost. (In only 36 percent of the cases in which ghosts were heard but not seen did they actually speak.)

Rarer still is it for a ghost to speak at length.

Nonetheless, some respondents told researchers that they had held lengthy conversations with ghosts. A handful even said they had talked at length with a ghost while not even realizing it was a ghost until later learning that the person they’d spoken to had died days or weeks before the conversation took place.

As for the content of ghostly conversation, however brief it might be, it often takes the form of a warning concerning some sort of threat, a suggestion for solving a problem, or some type of emotional reassurance. (Almost never do they say Boo! or Get Out!)

Of ghosts who speak, not all of them do so in a realistic manner—that is, with their lips moving and words coming out. It is common for people to say that a spirit had spoken to them in a “telepathic” manner without seeming to use their mouths to create vibrations in the air.

In addition to speech, a small minority of ghosts are heard to make such nonverbal sounds as whistling, sighing, screaming, panting, and breathing.

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