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Review of  Reported Discourse

Reviewer: Fay Wouk
Book Title: Reported Discourse
Book Author: Tom Güldemann Manfred von Roncador
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
Issue Number: 14.296

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Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 07:27:23 +1300
From: Fay Wouk
Subject: Reported Discourse: A Meeting Ground for Different Linguistic Domains

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

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

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

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 Güldemann,
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.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER 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.