Posted by RRC on October 18, 2006
In Reply to: He thought to himself posted by R. Berg on October 18, 2006
: : : : : Does anyone know from where the nonsensical phrase "he thought to himself" came? Thanks. Jonathan
: : : : I don't know. It's just that there are some superfluous words. "He thought" says it all.
: : : I believe many people have independently invented the redundant expression "I thought to myself," rather than adopting it by viral contagion. Maybe, when thinking, they experience themselves as split into an inner speaker and an inner listener. You'd be hard put to find the first use. ~rb
: : It mirrors the perfectly logical "I said to myself". It's just done a bit more quietly.
: But it isn't logical. You can say something to yourself or to your friend. You can't think something to your friend. ~rb
I said "I said to myself" is logical. By "It mirrors", I mean it follows the same construction, same line of thought. Language is not based on logic. You say something to yourself, then you say it quietly, then you can say it sotto voce - what's the difference if no one else hears you if you've said it or thought it.
Also, sometimes you think/say things to yourself that are directed at/to other people. If you see your boss do something stupid, you can think to yourself "Boss, what the heck are you trying to do!"