LINGUIST List 7.830

Wed Jun 5 1996

Disc: Language and dreams

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. Karl Teeter, Re: Language and Dreams
  2. Dan Moonhawk Alford, Disc: Hypnosis & forgotten languages

Message 1: Re: Language and Dreams

Date: Fri, 31 May 1996 09:17:49 EDT
From: Karl Teeter <kvthusc.HARVARD.EDU>
Subject: Re: Language and Dreams
Dear Friends: While it has been fun reading all of the interesting 
anecdotes here related on this subject, I am a bit disconcerted to see 
everything we have learned in scientific psychology since William James 
swept away, until we are back to pure introspection. It should not be 
necessary to point this out to this list, but we know very little 
about what really happens in dreams. Even the rem sleep business, which 
now seems to be taken so for granted, is known only because of 
painstaking and detailed empirical study. As for the languages of which 
one has fluent command in dreams, it's simple. In real life, I struggle 
to approach limited fluency in any language beyond my native English. In 
dreams I can speak any language fluently -- you name it. What does this 
prove? Yours, kvt
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Message 2: Disc: Hypnosis & forgotten languages

Date: Tue, 04 Jun 1996 09:05:09 PDT
From: Dan Moonhawk Alford <>
Subject: Disc: Hypnosis & forgotten languages
On June 1, Benji Wald wrote (vol-7-811):

> No doubt such hypnosis research has or should be done (or should it?)
> with language-forgetting. Hypnotise some adult into remembering a
> language they haven't spoken or heard spoken since they were four, 
> six, or whatever. 

Interestingly enough, such work is on-going in Native America right 
now, though it's being done for real and not an experiment, and it's 
called 'ritual' vs 'hypnosis'. Turns out this country has a huge target 
client population of Native Americans who were kidnapped by the 
federal government when they were 6 or 7 years old, taken away from 
their families and tribal languages and sent to boarding schools 
half-way across the country, and forced to learn English and not speak 
their 'barbarous tongue'. Virtually all of the early 'boomers and older 
were subjected to this treatment by the dominant majority, and many 
of them lost/forgot their first language. 

According to one of my students, of the River People between Oregon
and Washington, ceremonies have recently begun, and are spreading 
across the Native population, which effectively restore Native 
languages that have lain dormant since boarding school days; the 
restoration of the language usually brings a dramatic personality 
change as well, he says. Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence is probably 
all our profession will get on this, given that during that historical 
period we did nothing to stop what was going on. I really doubt that 
any Indians would allow Western researchers in to observe; survival 
takes precedence over research. Note that this ritual is not a factor 
taken into account in projections of language death in Native America.

PS -- I seem to remember Steve Krashen doing work on Western 
hypnotic regression techniques for recovering early languages; whether my 
remembering is right or not is a different matter. moonhawk
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