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Article

Reported speech in Kakabe: Loose syntax with flexible indexicality

Folia Linguistica. 2020. Vol. 54. No. 1. P. 133-166.
Vydrina A., Nikitina T.

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.