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The Evolution of Self-Talk

Robert Pos
The Jaynesian, 2007, 1 (2).


Language originally derived from a mammalian auditory and gestural communication system solely based on emotions. It gradually developed into a stable auditory-verbal language that communicated far more than purely emotional states. Julian Jaynes claimed that the Babylonian linguistic confusion among humankind developed from a single stable Adamic proto-language ("The Evolution of Language in the Late Pleistocene").

In my view, this single proto-language was spoken at first entirely aloud by a group of African pre-Cromagnon (i.e., similar to contemporary pre-school children, there was no inner dialogue of silent thought). When confronted by a threatening or appealing situation, they might, to direct their action, have engaged in an imaginary monologue with an inner Exemplary Adult (probably representing tribal leaders or mythological tribe members who told them what to do). These monologues would have reflected a situational set of do's and don'ts depending on the circumstances in which the Cro-Magnon found themselves, rather than a singular value system of what is or is not allowed. Since a single fused image of an imaginary person did not yet exist, in those situations it is likely that the voices were imitations of exhortations from various Exemplary Adults. ...