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Pronominal coreference, here and now indexicals and direct versus indirect speech

Pronominal coreference and here and now indexicals differentiate direct speech from indirect speech.


Direct speech may contain markers referring to a here and now. Such markers are, for example, the first and second person pronouns. Consider the following example of direct speech, between the quotation marks:

Example 1

'Do ytst sels hast neat,' sei er tsjin har
you eat self almost nothing said he to her
'You are hardly eating anything yourself,' he said to her

The utterance quoted is represented as if it were the here and now, as is characteristic of direct speech. The second person pronoun refers to the addressee in the direct speech phrase, orthographically signalledd by quotation marks. This addressee would be represented by a third person pronoun in indirect speech. In the example above: indirect speech is the part of the sentence outside the quotation marks.

When we convert direct speech to indirect speech, the indexicals of direct speech are made dependent upon their representation in indirect speech. If the example above is converted to indirect speech, the second person pronoun is brought into line with the third person pronoun referring to the adressee in indirect speech, as in the following example:

Example 2

Hy sei tsjin har dat se sels hast neat iet
he said to her that she self almost nothing ate
He said to her that she was eating almost nothing herself

However, note that a first or second person in direct speech may also be linked to a first or second pronoun in indirect speech:

Example 3

Ik sei tsjin dy, 'do ytst sels hast neat'
I said to you you eat self almost nothing
I said to you, 'you are hardly eating anything yourself'

In that case, the pronouns in direct speech do not change when direct speech is converted to indirect speech:

Example 4

Ik sei tsjin dy datsto sels hast neat ietst
I said to you that.you self almost nothing ate
I said to you that you yourself were hardly eating anything

The sentences in (2) and (4) also illustrate that the tense of the verb may change when direct speech is converted into indirect speech. The present tense of direct speech becomes past tense in indirect speech, if the reporting verb in indirect speech is itself past tense. Direct speech is obviously quite independent of the syntactic context in which it is embedded: its pronouns and its tense are not affected by the pronouns and tense of the syntactic context. In contrast, an embedded clause representing indirect speech shows dependency on the pronouns and tense of the reporting verb in the superordinate clause.

The indexicals of the phrase containing the direct speech become likewise dependent on the indexicals of the superordinate clause, when direct speech is converted to indirect speech:

Example 5

a. Hy sei juster, 'Ik kom hjoed by dy del'
he said yesterday I come today at you down
He said yesterday, 'I will visit you today'
b. Hy sei juster dat er dyselde deis by dy del komme soe
he said yesterday that he that.same day at you down come should
He said yesterday that he would visit you that same day

In the example above, hjoed today in insensitive to the syntactic context in the direct speech. When converted to indirect speech, it becomes anaphorically dependent on the time adverb in the superordinate phrase. The example above also makes it clear that the modality of the embedded sentence is explicitly marked as dependent on the superordinate clause by the addition of the modal verb sille shall.

Examples such as (5) also make it clear that a discourse, conceived of as a string of utterances, contains all sorts of information about the question who said what to whom when and why. This information is packaged in a very economical way. Part of the information can be inferred from the previous discourse, such as the fact that the reporting verb in the last example is addressed to a second person addressee: the second person addressee does not change to third person in the embedded clause because the verb of reporting in the superordinate clause implies a second person addressee, not a third person one, even though the addressee is not explicitly realised in (5).