[Lingtyp] Query: extended direct speech

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at shh.mpg.de
Wed Apr 24 16:19:13 UTC 2019

Such phenomena have been discussed in the generative and formal-semantics literature under the heading of “indexical shift” (“indexical” stands for locuphoric person form). See, in particular, this paper by my Leipzig colleague Sandhya Sundaresan:

An alternative model of indexical shift: Variation and selection without context-overwriting (2018)
https://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/004115 <https://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/004115>

The paper deals mostly with true reported speech, but on p. 28, Sundaresan gives a table of 26 languages for which indexical shift has been reported, where some of them also allow this with verbs like ’think’ and other attitude verbs, and some also with ‘know’ and even ‘want’ (in Athapaskan languages).

Sundaresan even gives an implicational universal (p. 29):
"For a given grammar (language or dialect), if indexical shift is effected in the scope of a non-speech attitude predicate, it must also be effected in the scope of a speech predicate."


> On 24. Apr 2019, at 17:23, Denis CREISSELS <denis.creissels at univ-lyon2.fr> wrote:
> Dear all,
> By ‘extended direct speech’, I mean constructions involving a main verb which is not a verb of saying and a subordinate clause which does not refer to a speech act, but in which first person pronouns or indexes in the subordinate clause behave exactly in the same way as in direct speech, in the sense that they do not refer to the speaker, but to the subject of the matrix clause. This pattern is regularly (although optionally) found in Jóola Fóoñi (aka Diola-Fogny, an Atlantic language of Senegal), in the complementation of ‘know’ and other cognitive verbs.
> For example, in Jóola Fooñi, ‘The childi knows that hisi mother worked hard for himi’ is commonly expressed as literally ‘The child knows that my mother worked hard for me’. The obvious explanation is that such a sentence can be paraphrased as ‘The child knows (something he could express by saying:) my mother worked hard for me’. One must therefore consider the possibility that, cross-linguistically, similar sentences occur more or less sporadically in spontaneous speech with a special intonation, as a ‘figure of speech’ of the type termed ‘anacoluthon’ in classical rhetoric. What is special in the case of Jóola Fóoñi is that such a formulation is stylistically neutral, does not necessitate a special intonation, and is not deemed deviant by speakers.
> I would be interested to know whether a similar routinization of ‘extended direct speech’ has been observed in other languages.
> Best,
> Denis
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