Dialogue Between Sleep-Talkers and Wakeful Observers
Discussion of this topic will be facilitated by drawing a preliminary distinction between sleep-speech as a component of internal dialogue with fantasied people imagined during sleep mentation, and sleep-speech as a component of overt dialogue between an actual external wakeful observer and a sleep-talking subject.
Regarding internal dialogue, many observers have noted that much somniloquy sounds like half of a conversation or attempts to verbally interact with another person, often with pauses during which the "other" replies or else replies are awaited ( Burrell, 1904; Cameron, 1952; Cook, 1937; Trömner 1911a, b; Walsh, 1920a; Winterstein, 1953). For the most striking occurrences, the reader should examine the transcriptions of McGregor's somniloquy ( 1964), one of which has been quoted at length earlier (p. 101-102 this volume). In addition, McGregor himself, in a personal interview with me, related his impression of active dialogue when hearing playbacks of his sleep- speeches; i.e., his hearing them brought to mind the commentary and rejoinders of the hallucinated cast in his sleep-imagined scenario, which were not spoken aloud but apparently heard internally. Actually, of course, the subject creates the entire scenario and dialogue, gives part of it to "dream characters" to speak implicitly, and then responds to their utterances with his sleep-speech spoken aloud.