LINGUIST List 9.135

Wed Jan 28 1998

Disc: L2 and dreams

Editor for this issue: Brett Churchill <>


  1. Sheri Wells-Jensen, Re: 9.115, Disc: L2 and Dreams
  2. crwhiteley, Re: L2 and Dreams

Message 1: Re: 9.115, Disc: L2 and Dreams

Date: Sat, 24 Jan 1998 17:31:46 -0500 (EST)
From: Sheri Wells-Jensen <>
Subject: Re: 9.115, Disc: L2 and Dreams

When I wake from an especially vivid dream, I often can recall (what I
believe to be) actual phrases spoken in the dream. In my L2 (Spanish)
these bits are often well-formed utterances. Sometimes, though, I find
that I have appropriately chosen content words but the
morphology (and maybe function words as well) are *completely* wrong.
This has made me ponder whether there is a difference between accessing
content Vs. function words/morphemes in the dreaming mind. Do I just
fill in the functional morphemes when I 'relisten' to the utterances (as
has been suggested by many.)

One thing I have done to try and discover something about this is to
listen to utterances made by people in their sleep. In many of these,
(I've heard L2 and L1 examples) the whole utterance is well-formed
syntactically but I have to wonder about the content words. For example,
can anyone dredge up a context for the following (I overheard this, I

'There's a fork and a piano tuner on the kitchen floor... and it's
*Not Okay*!'. 

I know dreams can be odd but ...come on! Could this really
be an accurate reflection of anything? 

If anyone has attested sleep-utterances (the nonmumbled kind), I'd be
eager to hear them. That'd be an interesting corpus for sure. If I get
 a reasonable number, I'll compile and distribute! 

And, does anyone else remember hearing something recently on NPR about
brain images of subjects in REM sleep? Or, did I dream that!?

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Message 2: Re: L2 and Dreams

Date: Sun, 25 Jan 98 22:23:00 GMT
From: crwhiteley <>
Subject: Re: L2 and Dreams

I have recognised from my own experience a number of the L2 dream
situations reported recently. However there is one situation that I don't
think anybody else has mentioned yet.

I remember dreaming of being in Moscow and struggling to speak Russian.
Strangely I managed to find all the words I needed, though my Russian was
very rusty at the time. When I awoke and tried hard to remember the exact
words I had used, I realised that although much of the dialogue was
indeed in Russian, most of the difficult words turned out to be
Portuguese, which was the language I was actually struggling to learn at
the time. So in this case one foreign language stood in for the other. I
wonder whether this masquerading of languages might explain some of the
other linguists' ability to speak an apparently unknown language in their

Colin Whiteley
Barcelona, Spain
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