Introduction to Part III  pp. 177-178

Introduction to Part III

By John A. Lucy

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Part III, “Text, context, and the cultural functions of reflexive language,” explores the cultural significance of reflexive language and the pragmatic effects which can be obtained by creative manipulation of the parameters and boundaries of reported speech and current speech, text and context. In any situation where there are multiple ways of reporting speech in a community, the selection of or emphasis on one or another technique carries significance. For example, a focus of interest in the chapters presented here is the association between direct report (or literal re-enactment) and perceived authoritativeness. Direct quotation is apparently perceived as more authoritative because listeners recognize that such reports are relatively less subject to alteration in the speaker's interests and, inversely, authoritative speech tends to be directly quoted out of respect for its social value. Nonetheless, skillful speakers can succeed in projecting their own voice into the reported speech. Manipulations of this sort utilize the perceived authoritativeness of the narratives to achieve both personal and cultural ends. In this sense they can be persuasive in quite a different fashion than indirect reports, which more overtly adapt the report to current interests and circumstances.

The first two chapters focus on multiple performances of the “same” text in order to explore the interaction of text and performance context.