Advances in Written Text Analysis

By Malcolm Coulthard | Go to book overview

19

On reporting reporting: the representation of speech in factual and factional narratives
Carmen Rosa Caldas-Coulthard
INTRODUCTION
The report of what people said is a major feature of many kinds of written texts: court proceedings, news in the press, police statements, fictional narratives, etc. The most extreme case of the representation of speech in written form is the dramatic text, where the story unfolds through talk. In all cases, there is a teller who either creates a conversation, in the case of fictional texts, or reports what somebody else supposedly said, in the case of a factual report. What is said can be either directly attributed to characters in a direct mode or presented by the teller indirectly. The teller is, therefore, in charge of selecting what to report and of organizing the way what has been selected is going to be reported. The same words, for example, can be interpreted and therefore retold differently according to different points of view and according to different social conventions and roles. If, for example, a reporter writes: The director claimed that it was snowing instead of The director said that it was snowing what s/he is doing in the first example is to detach him/herself from the responsibility of what is being reported by choosing the particular reporting verb claim to gloss the report (‘the director claims something but I do not take responsibility for or necessarily agree with what he said’). In the second example, the reporter is apparently neutral in relation to the supposed saying, because s/he introduces it by using the verb say. Strategies of this kind can carry non-explicit meaning and it is important that readers become aware of them. In this chapter, I will examine speech representation in factual and factional texts in order to discuss the following issues:
(a) the means and the implications of inserting one text into another;
(b) the question of veracity and truthfulness;
(c) the exclusion of women as speakers from the press.

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