The Language of Dreams
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Dreams, I think, are a multisensory pseudo-experience, which is why we sometimes "experience" motion and sound, as well as vision. I would wager that we can dream in any language that we're capable of thinking in.
A little more on topic, I know that when I try to read in my dreams, I'm not very successful. I figure it's because the part of my brain that synthesizes written language isn't working as fast as the 'comprehension' parts. I'm not 'writing' as fast as I'm reading, which is pretty much the way it works in Wakey-Land, too.
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The real problem with the method is that you are supposed to pick up grammar intuitively, the way children do, but I like to study it more formally. So I am supplementing the tapes with a grammar book; however, it is so convenient to work on the tapes while I exercise (the other people in the gym probably think I'm talking to myself!) and so difficult to find time to work on grammar (after all, I could be reading a book!).
Of course, all this is the substance of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake.
I think it's more likely that you were utterly convinced that it was French--in your dream.
We often invent words in dreams which we feel are perfectly valid components of one or the other language, or believe things we know aren't true (if we can even imagine them) when awake. The reality of dreams feels no less real than the real thing.
#14 LolaWalser - I do not mean to imply that I actually had a dream in French without knowing any French. I apologize for being unclear.
Several weeks ago, I had a dream in which I was going to prepare an oration in Latin, and I didn't feel phased by that within the dream. I did take 4 years of written Latin in H.S., but I have never actaully spoken it.
I once dreamt a dream that seemed to alternate between an overwhelming floating sequence of numbers and notations followed by myself talking in one language I didn't recognise and then some science related things in German with unheard of compound words.
In my waking life, I don't pretend to speak fluent German. It was naturally impossible to retrieve what I dreamt.
If language means the spoken word, we don't necessarily dream in languages. If we stop dreaming in a certain language (Japanese), it doesn't mean it's no longer there. It's dormant, waiting to be activated again.
Languages and gestures are learned processes but it's possible that a deaf-mute person in a culture where a deaf-mute person isn't taught signs might still dream up such things (the dreaming self is a physically liberated self).
Of course, I clearly remember having dreams with legible text in them. (That's the last time I try to learn neuropsychology from Batman.) Once when I was a kid, I even had a cartoon dream with a title, which was displayed in text.
I occasionally dream in Japanese/English mixed which gets confusing when I wake up and try to recall. The weirdest one of those was when I dreamed about one of my friends who doesn't speak any English and we were talking about half and half of both. Mostly the Japanese was verbs in short forms, and I realized when I woke up that my grammar structures were wrong (compared to when I actually do talk half and half with some of my friends who do speak both, it's actually kind of a bad habit since I tend to do it with friends who only speak one or the other after awhile, especially when I'm tired I just use whatever is shorter).
I also tend to dream in accents if I've been hearing them a lot. Scottish especially sticks with me, I had a friend who from Scotland who was studying here, and when his friends came to visit him I hung out with them for a weekend. I spent the week after they left dreaming with everyone talking in Scottish accents. Luckily they were all from the Lowlands as I don't want to know what my subconcious would do with a Highland accent.
I spent a semester in Cork, and my landlady there's accent there made my dreams incomprehensible. I could just about understand her when I was awake, but it's hard to pay that much attention in dreams, or at least i found it hard.
One of my professor's main field of studies was Osaka-ben sign language and he said that he started dreaming in sign language after about a year. He also said that he signs in his sleep at the same time as he's talking in his sleep now, which is probably because he translates like that a lot.
Deaf people do dream in sign language. If you don't have the experience of spoken speech (only signed), then you will dream only your experience. On the other hand, if you have partial hearing, it's likely that you'll dream with sign and the bits of spoken language that you *do* hear.
There are lots of reports of deaf people sleep-signing, in the same way as people mumble in their sleep, as well as talking to themselves in sign. It's the evidence that sign language is a full and true language, not an inferior substitute for speech, because it works in all the same ways spoken language works. There is also signed poetry, and ways to sign lyrics to go with music, to make it musical, even if you can't hear the music. It's a very interesting field.
Could it not be something like the chain of associations instantaneously born in our dreams where physically discontinuous action may be tied together by a common mood, or the inverse, where unrelated moods are strung together by seamless action, and words pivot from one context into another as they do in Japanese poetry by pun?
In other words, the cat may be a somnambulist – though less a sleep-walker than a walking-dreamer – a creature to whom life is indeed “nothing but a dream.” And if you are in a dream, you are all there, which is to say, in the present. If you are present-minded, or living in the now, would it not make perfect sense to constantly renew the meaning of your movement so that no mistakes would be possible? Or, could the continuous flow of association be seen as never-ending rationalization expressed in action rather than words? Thanks to cats, I find myself suddenly wondering if the mark of human waking thought – as opposed to dreaming thought – is not so much its being logical as its being discrete, i.e., stopping and starting.
Yes, I came to appreciate dream-as-improvisation from watching my cat and how to read the puns better by translating Japanese poetry. And, some of the best translations were actually done while dreaming!
I gather now that other people have, but I'm confused about whether people can "read" in their dreams or not.
In the same vein, I don't ever recall hearing music in actual deep dreams, though I have "heard" (or imagined) music in that not quite dreaming, falling-asleep state.
I have had non english dialog but I can't swear it was "for real" and not a premise of the dream itself with the "dream master" fudging the grammar or words I didn't really know.
I know a girl who talks in her sleep, fluent French, but has never studied the language. Her grandparents spoke it and it's likely she heard it when she was a baby, and that memory comes up when she's sleeping.
I also know a guy who speaks Latin in his sleep but the source I heard that from is less reliable and I'm not convinced.
In another dream, when I am checking in at an airport, my book bag is taken by the agent and thrown into the baggage chute before I can reclaim it and read on the plane.
Later on in the same dream, I realize the airline has given me a flat top computer to play with, so I don't have to have a book to read.
In a third dream I write down notes on what the worship service was like (Episcopal Church).
Another dream, I am supposed to play two short pieces of music on the piano, but when I look at the music, I realize I haven't practiced them at all, so I just play something from within.
I have had library dreams, and in one I note the Boston Globe and the Long Island Newsday in their newspaper room, but not sure that I fully "read" them.