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An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

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Reconstructing speech events: Comparing English and Spanish

Rosario Caballero
  • Departamento de Filologia Moderna, Facultad de Letras, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Avda. Camilo Jose Cela s/n, 13071 Ciudad Real, Spain
  • :
Published Online: 2015-10-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2015-0031


In this article I focus on the verbs used to introduce Direct Speech in a corpus of fictional narratives in English and their Spanish translations in order to compare the way these two languages reconstruct speech events in texts by means of verbs of communication (e.g., say/decir, counter/argumentar, declare/manifestar) and other non-speech patterns (e.g., grin/sonreir, scowl/fruncir el ceño). Drawing upon typological research on motion (Talmy 1985, 1988, 1991; Slobin 1996a, 1996b, 2004, 2005, 2006), I address the following questions: (a) How do English and Spanish recreate a speech event by means of the verbs used to introduce Direct Speech?, (b) What does this say about these languages typologically-wise? and (c) Is it congruent with descriptions of Spanish and English as typological opposites in the literature? The hypothesis is that the differences between these two languages do not rest upon lexical availability, but on the weight placed in different speech elements in agreement with two different agendas regarding speech events. While congruent with typological studies, this piece of research attempts to broaden their scope and explore a topic still underexplored.

Keywords: verbs of communication; speech events; typology; satellite-framed languages; verb-framed languages

Published Online: 2015-10-27

Published in Print: 2015-11-01

Funding: The present research is funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Economía and Competitividad MINECO (reference: FFI2013-45553-C3-2-P). A preliminary study was partly funded by a grant received from NetWordS- 09-RNP-089 (European Science Foundation).

Citation Information: Linguistics. Volume 53, Issue 6, Pages 1391–1431, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2015-0031, October 2015

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