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The description of the Gloves of Flame in the Magic Item Compendium 3.5 states:

In addition, five times per day you can utter the word "burn" in lgnnan to generate a flame in the palm of one hand.

Does a character have to be able to speak Ignan in order to activate this effect?

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No, the item functions the same as any other command word item.

The character simply needs to know the word used to activate it, whether through being told, a hint on the item, or simple experimentation. Many command words don't even have any particular meaning. This part of the description for the item is simply for flavor.

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