Historical Reviews of Contemporaneous Interest—Tish O’Clair and Colin Fait SpecGram Vol CLXXXVII, No 4 Contents The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective

SOS to the Rescue

Salphy Torque
Professor of Inner Monologue and Self-Torque Studies
University of South Taurk

As is well known, language is not a rich social semiotic which evolved incrementally alongside socio-cognitive and physiological hominin traits over millennia in order to share messages of various kinds with other hominins. Rather, language is in fact, and actually, a purely syntactic phenomenon which arose through a near instantaneous cognitive mutation which then provided a complete structural framework for creating meaning. Moreover, under this second (and clearly, demonstrably true) vision of language, its primary purpose is, of course, self-talk. And at no time in human history has self-talk been more important and useful than now, when the world finds itself isolated, lost, alone and COVID-compartmentalised. It’s almost as if the obviously self-talk function of language evolved for this purpose!

To celebrate this Season Of Self-talk (SOS), we’ve been reaching out using the secondary function of language, to well-known self-talkers whose stories demonstrate the power of using language to create complete, fully lexically populated, multi-clause sentences in one’s own mind as one speaks to oneself. Here’s a selection.

Chaz Thwacker, 21; HMP Knuttbury, UK

I’ve been in and out of prison since stealing my own birthday presents on my 18th birthday. It’s no piece of cake, I can tell you (I mean prison, not not getting any cake on my 18th birthday). In fact, it’s been awful. If you think of being banged up in a cell for 23 hours a day with a vicious criminal as a housemate, it’s kinda like that. However, due to the do-gooder efforts of the chaplain, I was introduced to ‘self-talk’ as a way of managing violence, depression, low self-esteem, anger, lack of self-regulation, foul-mouthery and lateness. Turns out, I’m a genius at it. Through the power of self-talk I’ve been able to construct explicit and testable mental maps of reality (including the reality that is MyselfRev Nobb, the chaplain likes us to refer to Ourselves with an initial capital for some reason) which has enabled me to understand myself and my motivations completely. It’s also given me the tools to plan, in intricate detail, the armed robbery of a large bank which I shall successfully execute shortly after my upcoming release date. Thank you, self-talk: a great use of language!

Bartholomew Bravistock-Snotbury, 52; Loneton, Merseyside, UK

I’m a sad, lonely, bankrupt man, twice divorced and estranged from any family I might once have believed myself, fleetingly, to have had. Nevertheless, on reading Self-Talk Your Way to Talking to Yourself by the now world-famous Reverend Nobb, I realised that I could indeed find conversation and companionship, humour and humanity all by myself in my tiny, grimy, slimy bedsit-cum-hellpit above the 24-hour cashew nut factory in Loneton. And so I did. I’ve been conducting fascinating conversations with myself now for three years and have covered in detail all manner of topics: why both my wives left me, why my family refuses to speak to me, why my three attempts at going into business failed and why I collected all 931 of those miniature models of classic cars over the last decade. I now feel completely at peace with myself. Self-talk really works.

Hamlet, 32; Prince of Denmark

I’m an over-serious, slightly oddball royal from a dysfunctional royal family (is there any other kind?!) in northern Europe. On browsing in Elsinore library one day, I came across a dusty tome by Dickie Nobb on ‘self-talk’. Now I’ve always loved words, but this was a whole new take on the topic of talking.

Now, following the death of my father a little while ago, through the power of self-talk, I’ve been able to process the grief effectively and efficiently and can now clearly see that my father’s brother clearly killed his brother to marry his wife (my mother). I intend to deal with this through further in-depth self-talk, using so-called ‘socially externalised speech’ merely to drop enigmatic, self-contradictory clues about my own mental state to all stakeholders. This, very swiftly, will resolve this situation fully without any bloodshed or the collapse of central government. Self-talk: keeping royal heads firmly on their shoulders!

Samantha Sadbury, 28; Teardrop, Oxfordshire, UK

I’ve always loved my dolly-wollies. As a child, I only wanted more dollies and every birthday and Christmas, I get some more. I now have 7,341and I love them all. In fact, I love them so much that, ten years ago, I quit my university programme after three weeks and returned to mum and dad’s house to be with my dollies. Since then, I’ve left my room only to visit the helpful doctor that mum likes me to see. Other than that, I’ve been looking after all 7,341 in a state of intense bliss. The only annoying thing is that mum makes me read these books that the helpful doctor gives her. Most of them are rubbish, but one of them, about self-talk, really spoke to me and my dolls. We all loved it. In fact, I hadn’t realised before then the dolls actually have their own voices. So now, thanks to this self-talk book, not only do I play with my dolly-wollies and talk to them, but they talk to each otherand of course to themselves. Of course I can hear every word even though they’re talking to themselvesbut that’s because I love them very much indeed.

Rev Richard ‘Dickie’ Nobb (ret), 73

As a convert to Pastafarianism and now a Pastafarian minister, I’ve been talking to the Flying Spaghetti Monster ever since I was able to leave behind the heinous blasphemagary of the ‘religion’ of the Invisible Pink Unicorn in which I was raised by my older sister and her friends, following the death of our parents in a penne-related incident. (It’s amazing how His Noodliness can use tragedy to bring us to Him.) Anyway, in a profound religious experience in the late 90s while enjoying a dish of tagliatelle, I was touched by His Noodly Appendage and I heard His voice: ‘I exist now; I am but an externalisation of your Own (note capital!) inner voice’. This vision enabled me to reinterpret faith in the light of contemporary linguistic findings and see that much as spaghetti is both the staple foodstuff of Humankind, self-talk is the bedrock of Who We Are and Who We Can Be. Since then, I’ve been reaching out to Others whether they want me to or not, showing Them the value of spaghettiness of self-talk, how its interconnected stringiness can change Their lives and how talking to Yourself is actually talking to the Divine.

Historical Reviews of Contemporaneous InterestTish O’Clair and Colin Fait
The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective
SpecGram Vol CLXXXVII, No 4 Contents