Quotations in Early Modern English. Witness depositions

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingChapter in edited volume


This chapter discusses the use of direct speech quotations in Early Modern English witness depositions, which are the official records of a witness’s oral testimony. In particular, it focuses on the preface position in direct speech quotations in this text type, which typically takes the form of third person nar-ratives in the past tense, reporting previous speech events in indirect form. The witness depositions included in A Corpus of Early English Dialogues 1560–176 0will be studied to discover which lexical means are attested at the beginning of direct speech quotations to signal shifts in speech reporting, considering that punctuation was not consistently used to this end at this time. The analysis will first focus on the preface position in general in order to investigate how direct speech quotations are introduced in the corpus and to discover to what extent attestations in this position are explicitly associated with direct speech reporting (and potentially spoken language). Then, a closer look will be taken at the role pragmatic markers play in this position and how their structural and interper-sonal functions may be linked to the change in speech presentation. The aim is to gain further insights into the linguistic means attested in preface position in direct speech quotations of Early Modern English witness depositions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Pragmatics of Quoting Now and Then
EditorsJenny Arendholz, Wolfram Bublitz, Monika Kirner-Ludwig
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherWalter de Gruyter GmbH
ISBN (Electronic)9783110427561
ISBN (Print)9783110431759
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

SeriesTopics in English Linguistics [TiEL]

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 602004 General linguistics
  • 602011 Computational linguistics


  • witness depositions
  • direct speech
  • preface position
  • pragmatic markers
  • Early Modern English

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