Indirect Reported Speech in Interaction

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Analysis of the use of reported speech in naturally occurring interaction has tended to concentrate on direct reported speech (DRS). In this chapter I focus on indirect reported speech (IRS), exploring both recurrent aspects of its design, and patterns that underpin its use. I draw on research using conversation analysis, involving investigation of a large corpus of instances from transcribed telephone calls recorded in the U.S. and U.K. I begin by analysing the design of the device and show that the category covers a wide range of reportings including instances that blend with DRS and free-indirect speech at one end of the spectrum, to ones that are loose summaries or glosses of speech at the other. I argue that rather than a specific category, it might be more useful to view it as a range of devices by which speakers can shift footing more or less dramatically, claiming more or less fidelity to the source, and portraying the locution with more or less granularity.

Analysing instances of IRS within sequences reveals why speakers may design their reports in such a way as to shift footing less dramatically than would be the case had they used DRS. The design of IRS renders it particularly useful for a number of recurrent sequential environments. In this chapter I focus on one of these environments – IRS used in narratives as introductory detailing prior to DRS. I show how the IRS forms part of a unit used to convey two main pieces of information to the recipient – the circumstances under which the interaction took place and a broad-brush indication of the nature of the sequence portrayed through subsequent units of DRS. Central to the use of IRS is that it provides a less granular portrayal of the locution(s) in question and does not purport to depict it/them as ‘originally’ produced. This enables speakers to use IRS to briefly characterise the nature or starting point of the interaction, maintaining or facilitating the delivery of introductory detailing, prior to a shift to more extended and granular depiction of utterances using DRS.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndirect Reports and Pragmatics
Subtitle of host publicationInterdisciplinary Studies
EditorsAlessandro Capone, Ferenc Kiefer, Franco Lo Piparo
PublisherSpringer, Cham
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783319213958
ISBN (Print)9783319213941
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology
ISSN (Print)2214-3807
ISSN (Electronic)2214-3815


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