LINGUIST List 14.296

Wed Jan 29 2003

Review: Ling Theories: G�ldemann & von Roncador (2002)

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  1. Fay Wouk, Reported Discourse: A Meeting Ground for Different Linguistic Domains

Message 1: Reported Discourse: A Meeting Ground for Different Linguistic Domains

Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 22:36:45 +0000
From: Fay Wouk <>
Subject: Reported Discourse: A Meeting Ground for Different Linguistic Domains

G�ldemann, Tom and Manfred von Roncador, ed. (2002) 
Reported Discourse: A Meeting Ground for Different Linguistic Domains. 
John Benjamins Publishing Company, xi+425pp, hardback ISBN 1-58811-227-6,
$117.00, Typological Studies in Language 52.

Announced at

Fay Wouk, University of Auckland


This book grew out of a workshop on the function and form of reported
speech, held in 1998. Like most such volumes, the contents are rather
eclectic, meaning most readers will find some chapters more
interesting than others, and only a true devotee of the topic will
appreciate all of them. The book consists of a brief preface, 4
topically arranged sections, and a 50+ page comprehensive bibliography
of reported discourse which will doubtless prove a valuable starting
place for anyone wishing to get involved in the topic. The four
substantive sections are Categories of reported discourse and their
use (6 articles), Tense-aspect and evidentiality (2 articles),
Logophoricity (2 articles), and Form and history of quotative
constructions (5 articles).


The six articles in Part 1 focus on reported discourse in individual
languages or language groups. Two of the articles describe details of
the syntax of reported speech. 'Speech and thought representation in
the Karvelian (South Caucasian) languages', by Winfried Boeder,
describes the morphosyntax of reported speech in Old Georgian, Modern
Georgian, and Svan. The article points out that, where Old Georgian
mainly used direct speech, Modern Georgian uses both direct and
indirect, while Svan adds a third category, semi-indirect, which is
the preferred option. Syntactic characteristics of reported speech are
described, including the use of quotative particles and shifts in
person marking and evidential marking, and it is noted that shifts in
tense marking are rare. 'Direct and indirect discourse in Tamil', by
Stanford B. Steever, describes the syntax of reported speech in Tamil,
relating it to the grammar of complementation. A detailed description
of the syntactic changes involved in indirect discourse is given, the
possibility of semi-direct discourse is explored briefly, and reported
discourse is contrasted with the use of evidential marking, in
particular the hearsay clitic.

Two other articles look at the distribution of reported speech in
discourse. 'The acceptance of ''free indirect discourse'': A change in
the representation of thought in Japanese, by Yasushi Suziki, presents
a brief discussion of the development in Japanese writing of a means
to express thought in a way that is comparable to free indirect
discourse in European writing. It appears that modern Japanese
writers, under European influence, have developed a technique
involving non-preterite tense and third person reference. 'Direct,
indirect and other discourse in Bengali newspapers' by Wim van der
Wurff, compares the proportions of direct and indirect speech in two
Bengali newspapers, one a quality paper and the other more popular,
and then compares this with British quality and tabloid papers. He
finds the same type of distribution in both languages; more direct
speech in the popular papers, and more indirect in the quality ones,
and argues that this is explained in terms of the dramatic qualities
of direct speech, and the goal of the popular press to engage readers.

The last two articles in this section focus on functions of reported
speech in spoken language. 'Direct and indirect speech in Cerma
narrative', by Ivan Lowe and Ruth Hurlimann, examines the discourse
function of the two types of reported speech in a West African
language. They suggest that direct speech is used as a foregrounding
device, to move the story forward by describing verbal actions such as
assertions, commands and arguments, while indirect speech is a
backgrounding device, used for mental processes, and background
information. They then argue that there are many cases where the
narrator has a choice of foregrounding or backgrounding a speech
event, and claim that the choices can be explained in terms of
relative salience of speech events and material events, relative
salience of different speaking participants, and the patterning of
multiply embedded speech events. Their claims are interesting, but in
the case of the first two explanatory factors, the arguments seems a
bit circular.

'Self-quotation in German: Reporting on past decisions, by Andrea
Golato, approaches reported speech from the perspective of
conversation analysis, and focuses on one particular use of reported
speech, that is reported speech of self in troubles telling. She finds
that reports of decision-making in troubles-telling are always done by
means of reported discourse, and follow a particular sequence whereby
the speaker produces a troubles-telling, the coparticipant provides an
acknowledgment or assessment of the trouble, the speaker reports a
decision through self-quotation, and the coparticipant evaluates the
decision. She suggests that the purpose of this sequence is to render
the decision making process available to the coparticipant for
evaluation by reenacting it, in effect making the coparticipant a
witness to what occurred. It thus functions as a way of obtaining
support from coparticipants. Although the study is of German, the
author points to similar phenomena in Greek and English, which seem to
have a similar function.

The two articles in Part two focus specifically on tense-aspect
alternation in reported speech. 'Evidentiality and reported speech in
Romance languages, by Gerda Hassler looks at reported speech in both
spoken and written modes in French and Spanish. She points out that
the traditional classification of reported discourse as a type of
embedded complement clause is problematic for spoken language, where
direct reported speech is mainly marked intonationally and through
pronominal deixis, and the ''main clause'' is often highly reduced
phonetically, functioning largely as a marker that the speaker is not
responsible for the content of the utterance. As such, it functions
much like an evidential marker. The article goes on to look at the
expression of evidentiality in French and Spanish, not only through
reported speech, but through the use of tense and modality. 'Discourse
perspectives on tense choice in spoken-English reporting discourse' by
Tomoko Sakita, discusses the choice of tense within direct reported
discourse in spoken language, both planned and unplanned, and observes
that it does not follow the formal tense-shift rules that have been
described in the literature. Rather, the past perfect is avoided in
most circumstances where it might be expected. As in the previous
article, here too the author points out that in spoken language the
reporting clause is peripheral, a sort of comment clause, not a
temporal reference point. Tense choice in reported speech is
conditioned by speakers' attempts to maintain discourse coherence, not
by some abstract notion of temporality. Past perfect is found in
direct quotes only where it maintains the temporal order of the
discourse as a whole.

The two articles in Part 3 focus on pronominal shift. 'The logophoric
hierarchy and variation in Dogon', by Christopher Culy, describes the
use of logophoric pronouns (pronouns used in indirect discourse to
refer to the person whose discourse is being reported) in two
varieties of Dogon. The author proposes a hierarchy for the use of
logophoric pronouns in terms of syntactic role, and shows that the two
varieties vary in a way that can be explained in terms of the
hierarchy. He provides further support for this hierarchy from the
speech of 2 second language speakers, and a passive speaker, who seem
to extend the use of the pronouns in ways predicted by the
hierarchy. However, as the author points out in his conclusion, he has
no explanation for this hierarchy, nor for the subject/object
asymmetries it exhibits, which to my mind seriously weakens its
explanatory power. 'Logophoric marking in East Asian languages' by Yan
Huang, describes the use of long-distance reflexives in Chinese,
Japanese and Korean in terms of logophoricity, and presents a
neo-Gricean account of how long distance reflexives can be used
logophorically, based on Levinson's (1991) I-principle: Do not say
more than is required.

Four of the articles in the final section deal with grammaticization,
and focus on the form of quotative markers/complementizers. The fifth,
'Reported speech in Egyptian: Forms, types and history', by Frank
Kammerzell and Carsten Peust, is sort of the odd article out, since
although it has a diachronic perspective, tracing the development of
reported speech from Early to Late Egyptian, and it does briefly
discuss the grammaticization of the quotative marker, its main focus
is on the description of patterns of reported speech in the two
historical periods, and the development of patterns of pronominal
shift. As such, it might just as well have been placed in Part 1 or
Part 3. The article introduces the reader to the earliest known
examples of recorded speech in Egypt (and probably in the world),
scenes accompanied by dialog, similar to modern comic strips. After
this delightful introduction, the bulk of the article focuses on types
of reported speech found in different historical periods. In Early
Egyptian writings, direct speech is common, and indirect speech rare,
usually introduced by complementizers, and always involves pronominal
shift. In Late Egyptian, an unusual type of indirect speech had
developed, where only one referent in an utterance was referred to
with shifted pronouns, while other referents are referred to with
pronouns reflecting the original speech situation, leading to
utterances such as ''My daughter told me that you kissed me'' (when in
fact it was the speaker's daughter that the addressee kissed.)

'The grammaticalization of 'say' and 'do': An areal phenomenon in East
Africa', by David Cohen, Marie-Claude Simeone-Senelle and Martine
Vanhove, looks at the grammaticalization of verbs meaning say and do
as auxiliaries and inflections in languages of East Africa, mainly
Cushitic and Ethio-Semitic languages, but also Egyptian/Coptic, one
Nilo-Saharan language, and one Omotic language found in East
Africa. The path of grammaticalization is via descriptive compounds,
verbs that are formed from a variety of bases accompanied by a form
meaning 'do' or 'say'. They identify this pattern as an areal feature,
which has spread from Cushitic to non-Cushitic languages. They note
that both 'say' and 'do' roots participate in this process, and that
in one language the word meaning 'say' also means 'be', and suggest an
abstract semantic analysis in which these three meanings are identical
to explain this fact. While I found the description of the
grammaticalization process convincing, I was not as convinced by this
final point. I think it might be more fruitful to look at what in the
nature of each meaning can lead to grammaticalization, rather than
trying to lump the three meanings together in a single explanation.

The remaining three papers all propose paths of grammaticalization
that do not begin with verbs of speaking at all. Additionally, all
three make use of a network type of analysis rather than a
unidirectional path analysis. 'When 'say' is not say: The functional
versatility of the Bantu quotative marker ti with special reference to
Shona' by Tom G�ldemann, finds that the Bantu quotative marker did
not begin as a verb, but rather as a particle meaning 'thus', and
perhaps ultimately derived from a similative marker 'like'. He
provides a possible path of development to explain the many synchronic
functions of ti in Shona, and considers the implications of his
analysis for grammaticalization theory. He ends up suggesting a
network where multiple sources, including the verb 'say', the deictic
'thus' and the similative marker 'like' can develop into a quotative
marker, which can then further develop in a number of directions,
including complementizer, intention marker and hearsay
evidential. There is no single path through this network. ''Report'
constructions in Kambera (Austronesian)', by Marian Klamer,
investigates the quotative marker of Kambera, and finds that it is not
fully verbalized, and has a wider range of uses than just introducing
reported speech. She concludes that it has grammaticalized with a very
general semantics, and that its functions are best viewed as a
network, although her network is of synchronic functions rather than
of diachronic development. 'All the same? The emergence of
complementizers in Bislama', by Miriam Myerhoff, examines the
development of two complementizers used with reported speech, one of
which has come from a verb of speaking, and the other from a particle
that she argues is a similative marker, and that first emerged with
non-factive verbs and only later extended to reported speech. She also
proposes to explain the grammaticalization of these particles in
Bislama by means of a network, rather than a path. Taken together,
these three articles provide some thought-provoking implications for
grammaticalization theory.


I didn't find this book as exciting as I had hoped it might be,
although Part 4 was quite interesting, and a scattering of articles in
the other section held my attention. I think this volume would be most
useful to typologists with a particular interest in reported speech
(quite appropriate considering that it is in the series Typological
Studies in Language), and researchers in the area of
grammaticalization theory. It has far less to offer those interested
in discourse-functional syntax, although there are a few articles of
note. For most people, I think this is a book they might want in their
university library, but probably not in their personal collections.


Levinson, Stephen C. 1991. 'Pragmatic reduction of the Binding
Conditions revisited'. Journal of Linguistics 27:107-61.


Fay Wouk has a PhD in Linguistics from UCLA, and is a Senior Lecturer
in the Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics at the
University of Auckland. Her research interests include
discourse-functional grammar, conversation analysis and interactional
grammar, with a focus on languages of Indonesia.
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