In his recent post “Echoes of Inner Speech“, Eric Schwitzgebel reflects on the phenomenological differences between inner speech and the apparently lingering non-speech thoughts that follow episodes of inner speech. As the comments to the post evidence, it’s natural to wonder here to what degree the various relevant mental phenomena - thoughts, etc. - are language like. How “speechy” is so-called inner-speech? How language-like are so-called non-speechy thoughts?
It strikes me as relevant to compare such phenomena to the phenomenon of a name on the tip of one’s tongue. There’s a clear sense in which the name is “there” even though it’s not there in the way it would be if you were silently saying the name to yourself. It’s also clear that what ever is “there” has to be pretty language-like, since what’s on the tip of the tongue is a name, after all.