Inner Speech in Bilinguals: The Example of Calculation Abilities

Part of the The Bilingual Mind and Brain Book Series book series (BMBBS)


The idea that there is an inner speech has a long history, but was systematized by Vygotsky during the twentieth century. He referred to three different types of speech: “external speech,” “private,” and “inner speech.” It has been observed that the left inferior frontal gyrus represents the brain area sustaining inner speech use. In bilinguals it has been observed that the private speech can be either one, depending on the specific context. However, languages acquired later in life are less likely to be used for inner (emotional) speech compared to early acquired languages and L1 is preferred for emotional inner speech even when this language is partly attrited. When performing calculation tasks bilinguals seem to use L1 more frequently as the inner speech for mental calculations. The use of L2 is also reported for mental mathematics, particularly in cases in which education has been received in the second language. It has been suggested that bilinguals develop memory networks for calculations that are specific for each language based in specific brain networks.


Inner speech Private speech Social speech Emotional language Calculations abilities 



Our gratitude to Deven Christopher for her editorial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyFlorida Atlantic UniversityDavieUSA

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