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(a) I talked to myself.
(b) I said to myself.

What kind of difference do you native speakers think there is between (a) and (b)? A friend of mine (Japanese) says you use (a) when you are thinking aloud whereas in (b) it's all silent. Is it necessarily true?? Is it really a matter of vocalization?
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Hi,

A friend of mine (Japanese) says you use (a) when you are thinking aloud whereas in (b) it's all silent. Is it necessarily true?? Is it really a matter of vocalization? Well, your friend is not far from the truth. It's not as clearcut as he suggests.And perhaps there are some other considerations.

(a) I talked to myself. This sounds like you are giving information, having a discussion with yourself. It does suggest you are speaking aloud, although maybe not.

(b) I said to myself. This does have more of a suggestion of silence. It also has less idea of a discussion with yourself. I said to myself, 'I'm in big trouble!'

Best wishes, Clive
Good. Thank you, Clive.

And one more question. Are they both equally natural in English? It's not like one is more common than the other?
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"I talked to myself" is rather unusual in that no one would admit to being such a nut case. (It's the use of the first person that makes it strange.) Talking to oneself is the sort of thing you would mention of someone else, not admit of yourself!

The "nut-case" interpretation:
Did you see that guy on the corner as we walked by? Did you notice he was talking to himself? He'd better be careful or the men in the white coats are going to take him away!

An interesting alternate use:
My sister is a rude driver. She just cuts in front of others and leaves them talking to themselves! (screaming at her, but she can't hear them of course, so they appear to be talking to themselves!)

"I said to myself" is pretty much equivalent to "I thought".

CJ
Maybe this is obvious, but if you use "said" you need to specify what was said. "I said to myself" is very common; as Jim said, it usually means "I thought." (For instance: The first time I saw her I said to myself, "Someday I'm going to marry that girl!")

"I talked to myself" is certainly less common, especially in the simple past. I could imagine scenarios like "Doctor, I think I need psychiatric help. I'm nervous, I've been talking to myself, I hear voices..." Of course, you could say something like "I had no one to talk to, so I talked to myself." But I would say that it is not nearly as common as "I said to myself..."
Your examples of the one with a psychological problem is typical for 'I talked to myself', I think. But isn't it also possible for healthy people to use it when involved in, say, self-discussion? I think we sometimes have 'an angel and a devil' on our mind talking something completely opposite to each other, when we don't know which decision is better. When we are 'possesed' by them, it seems that they talk to each other using our mouth.
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Hi Taka,

CJ wrote: "I said to myself" is pretty much equivalent to "I thought". That pretty well sums it up. We use these words in this way reasonably often. Instead of 'I talked to myself', meaning a silent debate, we'd almost always use another debate-oriented verb, like 'wondered', 'considered', 'asked myself'.

Clive


Clive, what about my self-discussion example above? Is it really specific to 'nut-cases'? Your initial reply doesn't seem to say it is.
Hi,

Well, are you thinking of 'talking to yourself' aloud or internally?

Talking to your self aloud definitely a hint of potential 'nuttiness'. (Or perhaps they just have a very small cell-phone)

Talking to yourself 'inside your head' As I said earlier, I think we tend to use verbs other than 'talk' if we speak of this process: 'wonder', 'consider', etc.

Clive
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