Reports in Discourse

Julie Hunter


Attitude or speech reports in English with a non-parenthetical syntax sometimes give rise to interpretations in which the embedded clause, e.g., "John was out of town" in the report "Jill said that John was out of town", seems to convey the main point of the utterance while the attribution predicate, e.g., "Jillsaid that", merely plays an evidential or source-providing role (Urmson, 1952). Simons (2007) posits that parenthetical readings arise from the interaction between the report and the preceding discourse context, rather than from the syntax or semantics of the reports involved. However, no account of these discourse interactions has been developed in formal semantics. Research on parenthetical reports within frameworks of rhetorical structure has yielded hypotheses about the discourse interactions of parenthetical reports, but these hypotheses are not semantically sound. The goal of this paper is to unify and extend work in semantics and discourse structure to develop a formal, discourse-based account of parenthetical reports that does not suffer the pitfalls faced by current proposals in rhetorical frameworks.

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www.dialogue-and-discourse.orgISSN: 2152-9620   Journal doi: 10.5087/dad