LINGUIST List 7.729

Wed May 22 1996

Disc: Language in dreams

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <dseelyemunix.emich.edu>


Directory

  1. Alison_HuettnerNL.CS.CMU.EDU, Language in dreams
  2. , dreams
  3. MATTHEWS%HKUCC.bitnetyalevm.ycc.yale.edu, Re: 7.720, Disc: Languages in dreams, Typology, Millennium
  4. Patrizia Paggio, Re: 7.720, Disc: Languages in dreams
  5. Joel M. Hoffman, 7.720, Disc: Languages in dreams, Typology, Millennium

Message 1: Language in dreams

Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 13:32:11 EDT
From: Alison_HuettnerNL.CS.CMU.EDU <Alison_HuettnerNL.CS.CMU.EDU>
Subject: Language in dreams
I was surprised at the suggestion that dreams are a-linguistic and that 
we don't use any language when we dream. I have to cast my vote with the
group claiming that one can at least dream in one's native language. I 
have frequently awakened with the last bit of dream dialogue clear in my 
memory; it's sometimes very amusing. I recently dreamed that I was earning 
my living by writing bad haiku for greeting cards; I remembered the last 
haiku distinctly when I woke up, and it did in fact scan. I defy anyone to
compose an a-linguistic haiku :-)

						-- Al Huettner
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Message 2: dreams

Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 22:52:27 +0400
From: <fortunaglas.apc.org>
Subject: dreams
Subject: Re: 7.707, Disc: Foreign languages in dreams

I'd like to add the following to the discussion on 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 am convinced that dreams are a-linguistic, that is,
>dreamt without recourse to language.

To my mind (psycholinguistic one) dream is just the
continuation of not the activity carried out in day-time but
of the formal side of it. Just imaging that you are still
acting (though in speech acts) as a foreigner. The essence
of the communication conserved in a dream is what one felt
but not one thought. Dreams are mainly emotional and not
verbal.
What is interesting is that one may READ in a dream even in
a foreign language, or even after visiting Chinese museum
one may see hieroglyphs. that doesn't mean that dreams are
verbal. the formal visual images are kept in mind even in a
dream.
the verdict" dreams are non-verbal.
May 21, 1996
V.Belianine (fortunaglas.apc.org).
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Message 3: Re: 7.720, Disc: Languages in dreams, Typology, Millennium

Date: Wed, 22 May 1996 12:01:30 +0800
From: MATTHEWS%HKUCC.bitnetyalevm.ycc.yale.edu <MATTHEWS%HKUCC.bitnetyalevm.ycc.yale.edu>
Subject: Re: 7.720, Disc: Languages in dreams, Typology, Millennium
Karen Kay observes that the experience of a foreign language
in dreams can resemble rehearsal, especially rehearsal of
forms and phrases needed in communicatively stressful situations.
This is consistent with the "Din in the head" phenomenon which
Stephen Krashen (Inquiries and Insights, 1985) has analyzed
as involuntary rehearsal. I am aware that K's theorizing is
widely regarded as unscientific but the phenomena are real
enough and I don't know of a better explanation for them.
One feature which makes the hypothesis plausible is the
obvious adaptive value of such a mechanism as part of the
language faculty.
Steve Matthews
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Message 4: Re: 7.720, Disc: Languages in dreams

Date: Wed, 22 May 1996 10:00:01 +0700
From: Patrizia Paggio <patriziacst.ku.dk>
Subject: Re: 7.720, Disc: Languages in dreams
In reply to Rebecca Larche Moreton's msg about the fact that people
speak their native language when they talk in their sleep, I'd like to
mention the fact that my 5-year-old daughter, who is bilingual and
talks a lot in her sleep, sometimes does it in Italian, sometimes in
Danish. Judging from what she says, the choice of language depends on
the language of the person(s) she is speaking to in her dream.
I'm in no way an expert on the subject, but it seems to me that my
daughter's behaviour is difficult to explain unless we assume that
real language plays a role in dream interactions.

Patrizia Paggio
patriziacst.ku.dk
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Message 5: 7.720, Disc: Languages in dreams, Typology, Millennium

Date: Wed, 22 May 1996 08:13:00 EDT
From: Joel M. Hoffman <joelexc.com>
Subject: 7.720, Disc: Languages in dreams, Typology, Millennium
>If I am right, Mr. Hoffman argues that the existence of dreams in which the
>dreamer fluently speaks a language he doesn't really master is an
>indication for the a-linguistic character of dreams. This does not quite
>convince me. If dreams would be totally a-linguistic, one could dream of
>speaking any language, but this doesn't seem to be the case: people seem
>to dream only of speaking languages that they more or less know. I guess
>that someone who doesn't speak a word of Chinese in real life will never
>be speaking Chinese in his dreams.

Dreamers who "speak" a language they don't know well is only half of
my evidence. In my opinion, equally strong suggestion comes from the
deaf population, who reguluarly report that they communicate in dreams
with hearing people, but not through sign language, nor through
lip-reading. The point is, there is no language that they might be
using.

So I have noticed two common and widespread instanced where
communication in a dream takes place in a "language" the dreamer does
not know. Sometimes, the dreamer knows a bit of the language, but
somtimes the language doesn't even exist. 

The most powerful bit of evidence against alinguistic dreams is taking
in one's sleep. I envision a process that takes a thought and turns
in into language, then to be turned into speech. If the last stage
(language --> speech) is automatic or nearly automatic --- and
consider how difficult it is to assess grammaticality without voicing
a sentence, or the fact the children read only by reading aloud ---
then perhaps talking in one's sleep results from the few times when
thoughts dreamt are turned into language. 

Just of guess, of course.

-Joel
(joelexc.com)
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