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ColoradoGuy
04-12-2009, 11:10 PM
Do you talk to yourself out loud? As I get older I find I do this more and more. An intriguing question is if such language -- spoken, but in private -- occupies a middle ground between the words you think and the words you speak to others. Is it a different kind of language? Is it used differently? Another aspect of the notion is what we do when we read. Silent reading is a relatively recent phenomenon; medieval monasteries reverberated with the sound of monks reading to themselves, only out loud.

For writers, this question has practical implications. Should we write a scene in which a character speaks out loud to himself differently from one in which he is speaking to others or using unspoken, interior thought-speech. As I thought about it, it occurred to me that good writers intuitively recognize these distinctions and write much more convincingly than writers who don't.

semilargeintestine
04-13-2009, 03:39 AM
I've always talked to myself out loud (though isn't it thinking if it isn't out loud?). I speak differently when alone than to other people. I don't complete every sentence out loud, and often the responses to what I say happen in my head. That might be the sign of mental illness, but I like to think I'm just brilliant. :D

Adam
04-13-2009, 04:22 AM
I hold entire conversations with myself in my head, but I rarely talk to myself out loud. :D

In my writing, I will occasionally have my characters mutter something to themselves. When they do speak to themselves, it is often in a more relaxed manner than it would be when conversing with someone.

jodiodi
04-13-2009, 10:37 PM
I used to talk to myself out loud all the time as a kid. I think it had to do with being an only child and having to invent playmates. I also created elaborate stories that I 'acted out' during play. As I began to write, I did this more and more. Now I will sometimes do it when trying to figure out scenes in my writing. I see the 'performance' in my head and transcribe it.

cathyfreeze
04-14-2009, 03:34 AM
Like Jodiodi, i used to do it all the time as a kid. 40+ yrs later, i hardly ever do. If i *do,* it's to serve a specific purpose--if i *say* something, it's to listen to it, and thereby process the idea or sequence (of my own or something i read) in order to understand it in a more holistic and/or complex way.

Because that's what i use it for, that's what my characters use it for, too. :) And then, i don't speak in full sentences or thoughts (unless i'm reading something horrifically complicated out loud.) I usually condense it down to essentials, which would make no sense to anyone listening. :) So in my writing, i generally do that this way:

<thought>Why ask for a pencil? </thought> "Unless." She unbuttoned her pants and let them pool around her ankles. <thought>What's good about....</thought> "Erasable." She ticked ideas off on mental fingers. <thought>Short list.</thought>

Too often, when i've seen writers use 'speaking thoughts out loud,' it's been a form of 'as you know bob'ism--they're telling themselves something they know so as to inform the reader. It generally makes me wince. ;)

semilargeintestine
04-14-2009, 03:42 AM
I guess I'm the only crazy one. Haha. :crazy:

TerzaRima
04-14-2009, 08:01 AM
Interesting. Most of my patients with Down syndrome talk to themselves, probably because of disinhibition and poor working and language memory. If you listen to the content, it's often ruminative, replaying details of the situation (i.e. My teacher made me do my work over. She said X. I said Y. Not fair! )or speculative (What if my teacher makes me do my work over? Maybe she will say X. Then I will say Y). Sometimes fictional details are added (and SpongeBob said I was right too!) and imaginary friends. Kids come in misdiagnosed with psychosis very often because of this.

The more I see this the more I wonder if self talk is a way to consolidate experience in memory or to somehow make sense of it. It seems that there is something about the narrated experiences that can't fit into nonverbal intelligence...if that makes sense. Anecdotally, I am a self talker, but only when I am extremely frightened.

cathyfreeze
04-14-2009, 03:40 PM
The more I see this the more I wonder if self talk is a way to consolidate experience in memory or to somehow make sense of it. It seems that there is something about the narrated experiences that can't fit into nonverbal intelligence...if that makes sense.

Ya. Studies have shown that we process and record sounds in some spots of our brains, sights in others, reasoning in all those places. I think that if we *see* something, we won't remember it as well (or understand it as well) as if we hear it, too. That's how it works for me, anyway. If i say it out loud, i listen carefully to what i say. Helps me remember it.

I make my students take advantage of that multiple-storage capacity, too--i make them associate knowledge with sound, sight, movement. And it's not just knowledge level; they process it better if more of their brains are focused on an idea. I, at least, process it more deeply and widely.

I think your down-syndrome kiddos just *get* that intuitively. :)

tjwriter
04-14-2009, 03:50 PM
I talk to myself a lot, mostly when I am all alone. I've caught myself doing it at work, which is something I try not to do.

But sometimes mulling over ideas aloud helps me process them better and find solutions. When my husband's around, he lets me bounce all the pieces off of him while I put them together, and sometimes helps come up with better ideas. But then, he knows how my mind works, so he gets it.

I think it can be an important part of the processing information.

tjwriter
04-14-2009, 03:56 PM
But to get back to the original question, I speak to myself in a much more formal manner than I would to other people. It's how my mind works. I've spent years making speaking in a less formal manner out loud because I have tendency to talk above the people around me, in a very formal tone that most people don't use anymore. I've learned it's part of how my brain processes and retains information.

As far as characters, I certainly wouldn't give them my quirk because I think it would throw off the tone of the story.

TerzaRima
04-17-2009, 03:10 AM
I think your down-syndrome kiddos just *get* that intuitively.

Perhaps. But sometimes I wonder if they are an example--in this particular regard--of some glitch in the ability to formulate thoughts in language. I think there's a term for this ability, but it's buried back in my memories of Philosophy 101. I suspect it's difficult for them to think about complex things without speaking.

For neurologically intact people, sometimes I wonder if self talk serves the same function as other self stimulatory behaviors (discharge of anxiety, sharpening of attention). For example, I wouldn't think a character would realistically self talk about how good his meal was or what a fine day it was.

cathyfreeze
04-17-2009, 05:39 AM
I suspect it's difficult for them to think about complex things without speaking.

--Well, as i said, the more difficult reading i do, i do out loud. Foucault's Archaeology of Knowledge, for example. I totally had to read a lot of that one aloud to get it. OK, i got about 60% of it. ;) It's more *deliberate choice* in those cases--i'm convinced from my study and practice of multiple intelligences that it helps me get things. :)


For neurologically intact people, sometimes I wonder if self talk serves the same function as other self stimulatory behaviors (discharge of anxiety, sharpening of attention).

--Self stimulatory as in anxiety discharge, but also as in faux companionship--but not just neurologically damaged people. It's done by lonely people all the time. I always figured those post-apocolyptic folks should be talking to themselves all the time. I was a lonely child (parents always moving) and had to train myself out of voicing all my thoughts. :) Yes, even, on occasion,

how good his meal was or what a fine day it was. Was still doing it in HS a bit--especially when i found myself in a semi-private area, like the book stacks in a library. Actually, i *still* do it a bit when i'm puttering around the house. I hear others do it all the time in semi-private sections of public buildings--libraries, bathrooms, late-night convenience stories. :)

As far as i know, i'm (and strangers) i've seen do it are fairly normal, brain-functionally. :) So really, it's, if not a prevelant, at least not a scarce habit in gen-pop.

cat

cathyfreeze
04-17-2009, 05:44 AM
honestly, tho, for *fiction* purposes, you gotta be *very* careful if you use it, imho. It becomes intrusive real quick to my immersion in the story, if someone's saying things they *know*--it seems as though the author's using it to feed info to the reader.

If i talk to myself, it's not to say what i already know. It's to figure things out, to expand my understanding or push the boundaries of an idea forward.

Or to complain. Heh.

Ruv Draba
04-18-2009, 10:50 AM
Not every part of our brain wires directly to every other part. So for some people, hearing your own spoken thoughts might introduce them to other parts of the brain. (This is similar to what Cathy said I think).

For some reason my emotional sensoria is closely tied to my audio sensoria. If I speak words out loud they can give me a stronger emotional sense than if I don't. Conversely, the only words I vocalise to myself are those with strong emotion attached. So if I talk to myself, it's never in complete sentences and it's more about feelings than thoughts. But my head is always full of analytics, so perhaps emotions have to route back in through my ears. :) Maybe for feely types it's conscious thoughts that need to route outside the skull? I dunno.

I'm not sure that I'd much want to use that in fiction though. The traditional 'talk out loud' effect in fiction is the soliloquy or monologue -- the sort of thing you see in Shakespeare -- and I find that pretty trite. More commonly in modern fiction we get the whole-sentence thought, which I think works okay but like Shakespeare's monologues it's still mainly used to guide the reader on plot or character reaction.

But fragmented, emotionally emphatic vocalisations? They'd need a particular character to be useful, like an insecure psycho-killer or a lonely daydreamer or the ilk. And you'd want to be mapping psychological changes pretty closely to justify breaking the narrative rhythm as I think it would inevitably do.

Cranky
04-18-2009, 11:16 AM
Perhaps. But sometimes I wonder if they are an example--in this particular regard--of some glitch in the ability to formulate thoughts in language. I think there's a term for this ability, but it's buried back in my memories of Philosophy 101. I suspect it's difficult for them to think about complex things without speaking.

For neurologically intact people, sometimes I wonder if self talk serves the same function as other self stimulatory behaviors (discharge of anxiety, sharpening of attention). For example, I wouldn't think a character would realistically self talk about how good his meal was or what a fine day it was.

Oh, I definitely talk to myself outloud as a means of sharpening or focusing my attention, to help me problem solve, and things of that nature. Something about hearing the words out loud while I'm thinking it seems to crystallize things for me.

As to the OP, obviously from the above, I talk to myself. I do it all of the time, whether people are around me or not. The only difference is when others are around, I try to clamp down on it, so what comes out is often the ends or beginnings of sentences, or sometimes things in the middle. I'll have conversations with my husband that utterly confuse him at times because I'll switch between thinking aloud (talking to myself or him) and then just keeping it inside, without much conciousness of when I'm switching back and forth. He'll have no idea WTF I'm talking about because to him, I'm coming out of left field, when *in my mind* I've already started (or finished) a conversation. I just wasn't speaking aloud, and I am not aware that I'm doing it.

So, if I have people in my stories speaking to themselves, I try to be more logical about it. I think it's too confusing for people to switch back and forth between interior monologues and actual speech, unless I'm going to do it for effect, or as a stylistic choice. Because I'm trying to illustrate something that has nothing to do with the dialogue itself, really.

And I self talk all of the time about things like what a nice day it is, or that my coffee is too hot, or maybe I want tea instead, and oh! don't forget to get that laundry into the dryer, and go check the mail. Or, what was I doing again?

I had no idea that it was really *that* strange. Seriously. I thought people do this kind of thing all of the time. Then again, I'm the kind of person who says, "Excuse me!" when I'm home alone and I sneeze, too. LOL

My apologies if this rambles...this is what happens when I post at two in the morning instead of sleeping. :D

robeiae
04-19-2009, 02:22 AM
When I talk to myself outloud, I do it in German, just to be safe. The other one doesn't understand German.

KCathy
04-19-2009, 02:35 AM
I didn't used to talk to myself, but now that I always have kids with me, I have a good excuse to do so. I'll wander the grocery store aisles, muttering to myself about remembering the bread, and the casual observer doesn't think I'm crazy. It's fantastic! And hopefully not habit-forming since my excuses will eventually grow up.

I wrote a scene today in which my persecuted single woman is thinking about her sister's lecture on marital bliss. She says aloud, "There's nothing wrong with me." An employee in the next room calls, "You tell 'em, Boss."

A little eccentric, but I was hoping it will sound more fun than weird.

robeiae
04-19-2009, 02:50 AM
When I talk to myself outloud, I do it in Portuguese, just to be safe. The other one doesn't understand Portuguese.

Magdalen
04-19-2009, 04:52 AM
I talk to myself outloud when I'm writing prose and especially when I'm writing poems. Sometimes I just say a word over and over, which is a good example of my "interior" language. When I'm searching for a rhyme I go through the alphabet and pronounce each new "word" just it case it might sound like something else. When I write dialogue, I often speak it aloud, to hear if it sounds authentic.

Lately I've heard what I thought might be people talking out loud to themselves, but then I notice they are wearing a blue-tooth head-phone thingy. Even knowing the reason, it seems strange to hear someone engage in full-on conversation with "nobody" around.

semilargeintestine
04-19-2009, 05:06 AM
I talk to myself outloud when I'm writing prose and especially when I'm writing poems. Sometimes I just say a word over and over, which is a good example of my "interior" language. When I'm searching for a rhyme I go through the alphabet and pronounce each new "word" just it case it might sound like something else. When I write dialogue, I often speak it aloud, to hear if it sounds authentic.

Lately I've heard what I thought might be people talking out loud to themselves, but then I notice they are wearing a blue-tooth head-phone thingy. Even knowing the reason, it seems strange to hear someone engage in full-on conversation with "nobody" around.

Ha, I do that too. People think I'm crazy.

shawkins
04-24-2009, 08:37 AM
It's not really relevant to writing, but when I'm computering I often find it handy to speak number sequences out loud. So, like, if field 5 on screen A is "82753426" and I need to copy it to screen C along with field 17 on screen B which is "0x00038C" I'll mumble them to myself as I read them. This sort of thing comes up fairly regularly, and I just can't remember that crap without flipping back & forth between screens a dozen times. But if I whisper both numbers out loud as I read them, they're usually still with me by the time I hit screen C where I need to type them in.

I'm not so much remembering the numbers as replaying the last 5-10 secs of audio in my head.

rugcat
04-24-2009, 09:09 AM
I almost never vocalize anything when I'm alone.

(Occasionally, when I'm driving alone and see a particularly cute dog, I'll shout "Doggie! and when another driver cuts me off I definitely vocalize, but neither of those are the same as talking to oneself.)

Not only do I not vocalize, my thought processes are seldom verbalized, even internally. If I'm trying to think about something very specific I'll verbalize internally, but I often lose track of what I'm saying, or get stuck and repeat it in my head over and over.

But when I'm writing dialogue, I often speak it out loud to hear how it sounds, using various inflections as well as words. I think that helps me make the dialogue believable. But I don't vocalize when I invent the dialogue, only when I've written it and want to test how it sounds.

Cath
04-25-2009, 06:10 AM
I talk to myself to work things out in my head - like tjwriter commented, sometimes they make more sense that way.

I'm also an extrovert in Myers-Briggs terms, I like the way thoughts and ideas evolve as they are debated. If noone else will discuss them, I guess I have to rely on myself...

In terms of how I use language, it's pretty much the same as every day speech - fragmented and evolving. Perhaps a little more erudite than usual.

CDaniel
06-04-2009, 10:19 PM
Allow me if you will to join in here.

I to talk to myself, but not as much as I did when I was younger. I do it now more as away to find my story and a way through it. I change the way I talk sometimes too, to see how a charter I'm working on should sound and behave.

In reality though I don't like talking to people. I have a bad habit of tripping over my words a lot, because I'm nervous or something. So I tend to be a little more reserved and quiet. At least that's what people have told me. That I'm rather quiet.

scarletpeaches
06-05-2009, 01:46 AM
I talk to myself all the time. Usually when I'm writing, and something comes out wrong, I make a mistake, my characters screw up...

My characters are inside my head, so technically I am talking to myself when I say, "Oh FFS, again?" - "What the hell did you-?" - "Why couldn't you-?"

Comes of being an only child, and then living alone for nearly twelve years I guess.

And having a head full of people who don't exist.

blacbird
06-05-2009, 05:45 AM
Do you talk to yourself out loud?

We do it all the time.

We find it a way of focusing and structuring thought, which is often chaotic between us until we manifest it in physical speech. Now, it used to be, in public, that other people thought we were really weird. But, with the advent of the cell phone, we can talk to each other all we want, and nobody gives it a moment's notice, because so many other people are blabbering mindlessly into the electronic ether.

caw

tarcanus
06-06-2009, 12:55 AM
I talk out loud as well, and it is definitely different from my internal speech and external speech.

When I'm having verbal thoughts - as in talking in my head I'm thinking - I tend to go through things very logically and/or play scenes in my head of how a situation could end up or what I might do when a person does action A.

When I'm talking to someone else I try to listen a lot and then make relevant comments. I rarely spew random things out there unless the other person is one of 2 people in my life.

When I'm talking to myself verbally, it's usually ranting about something that is lying around the house that someone else should've put away a long time ago or something along those lines. Things I wouldn't actually say to the person who doesn't do anything around the house, but would like to. It feels nice to get all the ranting out of my system so I don't just blurt it out in front of someone later and have to explain myself.

AMCrenshaw
06-08-2009, 12:34 PM
I talk out loud as well, and it is definitely different from my internal speech and external speech.

When I'm having verbal thoughts - as in talking in my head I'm thinking - I tend to go through things very logically and/or play scenes in my head of how a situation could end up or what I might do when a person does action A.


This sort of internal speech seems easier to map out than what Ruv might call thought or memory soup, which makes it easier to put into narrative. And might be a pretty good idea, considering most "reaction" in stories is doing just that.

On the other hand,
Most of the talking I do with myself is wondering where I put the goddamn keys or how to calculate a decent tip. Otherwise I honestly have too many voices to carry on a sustained internal conversation-- and if/when that comes tumbling out in audible speech, it's unlikely to mean much of anything to anyone else.



AMC


ETA: and just today, I exclaimed to myself that the same song has been in my head for 20 hours or longer.

Fallen
06-10-2009, 05:17 PM
Fantastic thread... Something I've not really questioned.

Going through the pains of linguistic training you're taught to recognise the signs and sounds of style and code switching, and to understand the psychology behing those switches. Thought is harder, but I think it's safe to say it would be the most honest of switches a person makes. But talking out loud to your self...? Hmmm, low intonation when you're on your own? changes when your reading to an audience, although it would probably be more monotonus if you're reading to yourself...? Certainly expressing that in writing would have to changes into account, and I'm kind of embarrassed to say I'd never really given 'talking to yourself' out loud much thought in my writing (other than mumbles etc)...

Personally, with the amount of style switching, mumbling, we do, we seem to border so close on the edges of schizophrenia... it's scary.

Newguy1428
06-12-2009, 09:22 AM
Do you talk to yourself out loud? As I get older I find I do this more and more. An intriguing question is if such language -- spoken, but in private -- occupies a middle ground between the words you think and the words you speak to others. Is it a different kind of language? Is it used differently? Another aspect of the notion is what we do when we read. Silent reading is a relatively recent phenomenon; medieval monasteries reverberated with the sound of monks reading to themselves, only out loud.

For writers, this question has practical implications. Should we write a scene in which a character speaks out loud to himself differently from one in which he is speaking to others or using unspoken, interior thought-speech. As I thought about it, it occurred to me that good writers intuitively recognize these distinctions and write much more convincingly than writers who don't.

What's that Woody Allen movie where he used the subtext of the characters in subtitles to show their thoughts? Guy meets girl, we see their their thoughts in subtitles about how attracted to each other and horny they are, but what they say is trite and reveals how much emotion is under the surface in life. It was hysterical. To put your answer into writer's jargon, it's subtext. The obstacle to overcome is...too much subtext explicitly written becomes the text and then you have a deficit of subtext to make up for, you'll need a bigger onion of a story to dissect. Does that sound like a suitable challenge?

I read about a scientific study that tried to monitor subvocalizations, NASA is working on machines that monitor the nervous signals in the throat when people read silently. I am surprised no one has tried to use it as a lie detector yet. Here it is at wiki. I bet there is a lot of nonsense mixed in, in the nervious signals, to complicate it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subvocalization

I sing to myself and never knew how annoying that is until one of my students was singing to herself as she helped me clean the classroom. When I sing to myself, I prefer a song where I don't know all of the lyrics and I often make up ones that I like more than the original ones.

Sean D. Schaffer
06-26-2009, 06:26 AM
Half the time, my mind is so numb inside I can't even think without talking to myself.

And yes, the language I use when talking to myself is vastly different than what I use when actually talking to others. I'm generally a lot more comfortable with myself and thus, speak in a much more casual tone. I also use more curse words when talking to myself than I do when talking to others. I've even used the "F" word when referring to myself in the process of talking to myself. I do that all the time when I'm talking only to myself.

When I am talking to others, I hardly ever use language like that. Also, when talking to myself, I'm more open in what all I'm willing to talk about. Some of the subjects I talk openly about when speaking only to myself, I would not be caught dead saying to another living person. Perhaps online, using a username that is not my real name, but not where someone might actually think Sean Schaffer is saying it.


I hope this helps you out, ColoradoGuy. Best wishes to you on your work, and Blessed Be. :)