Attribution and the discourse structure of reports
Keywords:Discourse Structure, SDRT, Attribution, Coherence, Quotation, Reported Speech, Free Indirect Discourse
I propose a discourse-level analysis of report constructions. Indirect discourse, mixed and direct quotation, free indirect discourse, and attitude ascriptions are all analyzed in terms of a discourse relation of ATTRIBUTION, connecting two propositional discourse units corresponding to (i) a frame segment (he said, she dreamed) and a (possibly complex, multi-sentence) report (“I’m an idiot”, (that) she was president). I provide a unified semantics for the discourse relation of ATTRIBUTION that invokes a flexible notion of ‘characterization’. A discourse unit may characterize a speech event by reproducing its linguistic surface form (as in quotation) or its propositional content (as in indirect speech and attitude reports), or some mixture of both (as in mixed quotation or free indirect discourse). I formalize this unified discourse-level ATTRIBUTION approach to reporting within the general framework of SDRT, and apply it to direct, indirect, and free indirect reports that extend beyond the single embedded or quoted clause. The resulting account is the first to do justice to the complex internal dependencies within stretches of reported discourse.