VS in dialog

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Mon Jan 7 18:05:48 UTC 2008

On Jan 5, 2008, at 9:56 PM, Doug Wilson wrote:

>> He notes that both of the following constructions appear in English
>> literature:
>> "'That's my car', said the Dutchman."
>> "'That's my car', the Dutchman said."
>> but has the impression that the former ("reversed-style") is more
>> common in older texts, while the latter ("regular-style") is
>> dominant in
>> more recent works.
> I have no idea which is/was more common. Both are frequent and
> ordinary now AFAIK.

the "reversed-style" version is known as Quotative Inversion in the
syntactic literature.  you can google up a pile of references.
including some discussion of QI in the New Yorker, in early Language
Log postings (#17, 28, 37).

both versions have the quotation (which is in fact the direct object
of the verb) in sentence-initial position -- a characteristic of
written rather than spoken english.

> ... (1) "Regular style" is usual with pronouns. <<"That's my car,"
> he said.>>
> (2) "Reversed style" seems more appropriate for a speaker identified
> by a long expression. <<"That's my car," said a tall blond Dutchman
> wearing a baseball cap.>>

both good observations.


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