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Functions of reported speech in group discussions.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date09/1999
JournalApplied Linguistics
Number of pages26
Original languageEnglish


Recent studies have shown how reported speech can work in interaction, giving participants a way of dealing with possible tensions and signalling intended frames. This paper proposes a taxonomy of functions for direct reports of speech (and of writing and thought) in focus group discussions. Reported speech always suggests a shift in frame, and that shift can focus attention on the setting factuality, speaker's position, or the words themselves (or on several of these aspects at once). Reported speech both depicts the experience of the original utterance, and detaches the reported utterance from the reporting speaker; so within each of these categories, reported speech can have a range of functions from an emphasis on direct experience to an emphasis on detachment. Focus groups differ from some comparable group discussions in several ways, but they can serve as a guide to the ways participants in other kinds of group discussions might use reported speech to orient to other members of the group and to the purpose of the discussion.