Initiating direct speech in Early Modern English prose fiction and witness depositions

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingChapter in edited volume


This chapter explores direct speech representation in Early Modern English prose fiction and witness depositions. The focus is on the preface position in direct speech turns—that is, the very first position at speech onset. The aim is to discover how the beginning of direct speech was signalled in the presence or absence of speech-external quotatives, at a time when transitions in voice were not yet consistently marked by punctuation. I investigate similarities and differences between the two text types, drawn from A Corpus of English Dialogues 1560–1760, to understand how an impression of direct speech was created for literary purposes as opposed to (re)constructed in a legal context. This study thus provides new insights into the relationship between the construction and reconstruction of speech and thereby contributes to the research agenda of enhancing our understanding of speech (re)presentation during past periods of the English language.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpeech Representation in the History of English
Subtitle of host publicationTopics and Approaches
EditorsPeter J. Grund, Terry Walker
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780190918095
ISBN (Print)9780190918064
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • direct speech
  • speech-internal perspective shifter
  • Early Modern English
  • corpus pragmatics
  • A Corpus of English Dialogues 1560-1760
  • prose fiction
  • witness disposition

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