LINGUIST List 7.717

Mon May 20 1996

Disc: Foreign languages in dreams

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <lveselinemunix.emich.edu>


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  1. Joel M. Hoffman, 7.707, Disc: Foreign languages in dreams
  2. WDEREUSECCIT.ARIZONA.EDU, Re: 7.707, Disc: Foreign languages in dreams

Message 1: 7.707, Disc: Foreign languages in dreams

Date: Thu, 16 May 1996 14:52:00 EDT
From: Joel M. Hoffman <joelexc.com>
Subject: 7.707, Disc: Foreign languages in dreams
>Has any linguistic research been carried out (I hope so) on the
>representation and function of foreign languages in dreams? I would be

I am convinced that dreams are a-linguistic, that is, dreamt without
recourse to language. I have two bits of evidence for this.

1. Many people I know, including myself, have purportedly had a
conversation in a dream in a foreign language >using words they don't
know,< for example, discussing politics or some other complex domain.
In these cases, I think people dream the content of the dream, and
dream that they are speaking a foreign language, but don't actually
use the foreign language as part of the dream.

2. Most people who are deaf relate that, when they dream and
communicate with hearing people, they don't use sign (hearing people
don't know sign), they don't read lips and they don't have any
trouble. In short, they simply communicate. Again, these people
dream that they are communicating, and dream the contents of the
communcation, but without recourse to a specific language.

In both cases, we have communication without language during the
dream, and words imposed only later when the dream in remembered.

-Joel Hoffman
(joelexc.com)
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Message 2: Re: 7.707, Disc: Foreign languages in dreams

Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 10:45:57 PDT
From: WDEREUSECCIT.ARIZONA.EDU <WDEREUSECCIT.ARIZONA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 7.707, Disc: Foreign languages in dreams
Dear Linguists:

I'd like to add the following to the discussion on Foreign Languages
in dreams. I think that linguists, who are sometimes emotionally
involved in languages they study but do not speak, sometimes dream in
languages they do not actually speak. Let me explain, in my own case,
I have always had a strong desire to speak certain languages (Lakota
and Apache) fluently, but I am far from fluent. I remember speaking
quite well in these languages to native speakers of lakota or Apache
in my dreams. Then I would wake up and get very frustrated because I
remembered I sounded so good, but could not remember the actual words!
I am sure other linguists, or maybe any motivated language learners,
have had simialr experiences. This is also to caution people that
just because we remember dreaming in a certain language does not mean
that we actually did.

Willem J. de Reuse
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Arizona
Tucson, Az 85721
WDEREUSECCIT.ARIZONA.EDU
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