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I recall meeting someone on Yom Kippur once who would not respond when I spoke to him. Instead he handed me a piece of paper which said that he was engaged in a taanit dibur, a 'fast' where that which one is refraining from engaging in is speaking. I would like to know where this idea comes from.

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cf pirkei avos 1:17 – user5092 Mar 18 '14 at 19:52
see the gate of abstinence in Chovot Halevavot dafyomireview.com/article.php?docid=393#ch5 where it says "guarding the tongue". seems like just a technique for learning to control the tongue. – ray Mar 18 '14 at 20:28

This site says there is no source for the Taanis Dibbur but that it is mentioned by the Mishnah Berurah 571 (1) MB [2] where the Mishnah Berurah says that he saw written in a book that when someone wants to offer a voluntary fast it's better if he accepts a Taanis Dibbur rather than holding himself back from food since he will have no bodily harm from it (he will not get weak as in a fast from eating and drinking). He points out that the Vilna Gaon in a letter wrote that a person should not afflict himself with fasting or other bodily afflictions but rein in his mouth and his appetites.

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