Response to Spronck and Nikitina "reported speech forms a dedicated syntactic domain"

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    I am grateful for the chance to respond to this interesting and valuable study. The ubiquity of reported speech constructions in human languages is a remarkable fact about them, bearing out Bakhtin’s (1984: 143) dictum that that we “live in a world of others’ words”. But despite its ubiquity and functional distinctiveness, as Spronck and Nikitina (S&N) show us, the category of reported speech (RS) is harder to pin down than we might think. First of all there are problems with the term itself, given that what RS “reports” may include thought as well as speech, and even when it is (re)presented as speech, may not ever have actually been spoken. Notwithstanding those problems with the term “reported speech”, in practice it seems that the range of phenomena to which it has applied do match up closely with those referred to by alternative terms such as “reported discourse”, “represented speech”, and “constructed dialogue”. Given that, and the fact that “reported speech” is the most commonly used term for it nowadays, S&N’s decision to stick with it seems sensible.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)237-244
    JournalLinguistic Typology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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