Reported speech in Kakabe: Loose syntax with flexible indexicality
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.