The sound of one quotation mark: Quoted speech in Indigenous Australian narrative

Alan Rumsey, John Mansfield, Nicholas Evans

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    A common feature of storytelling around the world is the artful use of quotation to enact the speech of characters in the stories. Here we examine how that works in Indigenous languages across northern Australia. After presenting introductory examples, we map out the main typological dimensions along which languages organise different solutions to the problems of representing speech and thought, and show how those dimensions figure in our sample of Indigenous-language texts. For six of the languages we quantify the proportions of quoted vs non-quoted speech within selected texts, and the proportion of the quoted speech that is explicitly framed as quotation. For comparative purposes the sample also includes two popular English-language narrative texts by non-Indigenous authors. We conclude by addressing the question of what is most distinctive about quotation in Indigenous Australian storytelling, and suggesting how our analysis of it can help to advance understandings of “voice” and multivocality in general.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationCelebrating Indigenous Voice
    Editors Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald , Robert L. Bradshaw , Luca Ciucci and Pema Wangdi
    Place of PublicationGermany
    Publisherde Gruyter
    ISBN (Print)9783110789836
    Publication statusPublished - 2023


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