Reported speech in Kakabe: Loose syntax with flexible indexicality

  • 1 LLACAN, CNRS, 7 rue Guy Môquet BP 8 94801, Villejuif, France
  • 2 Linguistic Convergence Laboratory, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
Tatiana NikitinaORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5332-0345 and Alexandra Vydrina

Abstract

Mainstream approaches to the typology of reported discourse have been based on the notion of a direct-indirect continuum: reported speech constructions are traditionally analyzed as conforming to or deviating from the “ideals” of European direct and indirect speech. This study argues that continuum-based approaches fail to distinguish between two dimensions of variation that are systematically discriminated in a number of African languages and should therefore be treated separately. First, different constructions can be recruited for speech reporting, ranging from paratactic to subordinate structures. Second, languages differ in the way pronouns in speech reports are interpreted. In European languages two different deictic strategies are associated with different syntactic types of speech report (‘indirect’ and ‘direct’ deixis is correlated with subordination and parataxis, respectively). In Kakabe, we argue, the choice of pronominal values is independent of the construction’s syntax. Dissociating the construction’s structural properties from the behavior of indexicals allows us to describe the Kakabe strategies of speech reporting as well as account for the seemingly puzzling behavior of reported commands. Our data shows that speech reporting strategies of Kakabe should be treated as a type in its own right: a type characterized by loose syntax and flexible pronominal indexicality.

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