Language Pet Peeve #2: I thought to myself

I hear this all the time lately, and I have also read it in literature. Obviously this construction has been around for a long time, but it is an excellent example of redundancy.

I thought to myself…

Who else are you going to think to? Are you psychic? Do you normally think to other people and on this particular occasion, you feel the need to clarify that you are only thinking to yourself today, not to anyone else?

Just say “I thought.”

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I think it is an interesting archaeological marker. In the modern period, when we came to think inside our head alot, a very old saying, “I said to myself,” is translated into “I thought to myself.”

    Besides Ecclesiastes, we see the old phrase in Plato’s Apology where old Sox, talking to himself, recognizes that he is at least as wise as the fools running around claiming to know something.

    Very interesting.

    1. Oh yes… that phrase is probably even more remote…

      I said to myself is more than likely itself a translation into the language of selfhood that typifies the change from medieval to modern. The original is more than likely, “I said to mine own heart.”

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