chapter  12
18 Pages

Steven Connor Satan and Sybil: Talk, Possession, and Dissociation

When we want to suggest the vacuity of somebody's language, we te nd to avoid references to speech: you "talk" rather than "speak," "through your hat," or "out of your arse." We "talk in our sleep": we do not "speak in our sleep." That talking often implies a language over which we do not have complete control accounts for the fact that we refer to people who speak too much as "talkative" rather than "speakative." Because talk is less rational, less determinate than speech, there is always a hint of the superßuous or the gratuitous in it. Because we use the word "speaking" when we mean that someone is speaking as themselves, we also use it when they are deliberately speaking as somebody else, or using another's language or mode of discourse. We are more likely to use the phrase "she speaks French" of someone whose first language is not French, but who can consciously shift to the use of it; "talking French" is something that French people are likely to be said to be doing.