Literary Stylistics:
Lecture Notes no. 20

Speech and Thought Presentation 2: Further Considerations

A revised version of this document is available.

Page Index:
Theme-Rheme & Given-New
Mood & Modality
Transitivity & Clause Complexing
Orthographic Indicators

1) Theme-rheme & given-new:

The paragraph theme in the analysis of the agency of speech and thought may be important: i.e. the first sentence of the paragraph may give us an indication of the sayer or thinker for the rest of the paragraph.
         Given information in general may also be important: an indication of who says or who thinks given in an earlier sentence or clause may not be repeated in the sentences or clauses which are immediately subsequent to the earlier one, but it must be assumed by the reader or analyst that the sayer or thinker remains the same. This consideration is especially crucial in locating the agency of speech and thought in the 'free' versions of discourse. Themes have been regarded (for example by Peter Fries), as having a close connection to the 'point of view' of the clause that it is associated it: we can see above that there are grammatical reasons for this.

2) Mood and modality:

Tense is important in telling us about the time that the agent says or thinks, relative to the present of the narrative: i.e. past, present or future to the scene being described, or, past or present to the narrator's act of narration. If the present (or future) tense is used in the language of the narrator which primarily uses the past tense, this is usually a good indicator that the (free) direct speech of a character has intruded into the narrator's language.
         In general, mood and modality in third person narratives may indicate the judgmental nature of the clause, which may thus be linked to the point-of-view, and hence to the speech or thought, of a character of characters within the story, and not completely to the point-of-view of the narrator. Any variation in clausal mood for example, may indicate that the speech or thought of a character has intervened: in this case, it is expected that the third person narrator uses the declarative mood; if the imperative, interrogative or other non- declarative moods are used, one suspects (although this may not be invariably the case) that the speech or thought of a character or characters has intervened. Other features of mood and modality when found in a clause, such as the presence of the modal operators, modal adjuncts, or negative polarity may also indicate the judgmental nature of the clause, which may thus be possibly (but not invariably) linked to the speech or thought of a character of characters within the story.
        In some cases, features of mood or modality may indicate the actual or possible non-occurrence of speech and thought in relation to a particular proposition. The modal operators for example, may indicate that speech or thought could or should have happened, but has not actually happened: eg. 'He could have said that he was innocent' or 'They should have thought that killing a man who might later be proved innocent was not the right thing to do'. Some of the modal adjuncts may also indicate that speech or thought has actually or possibly not occurred: 'They almost said that the man was not responsible for the murder when the police shot him' (speech has not occurred) or 'He possibly thought that he was the man' (he might or might not have thought). (It must be stated here however, that modal operators and modal adjuncts sometimes do indicate that speech and thought have occurred; indeed, modal adjuncts may indicate the certainty of their occurrence: eg. 'He definitely thought that he was the man'). Finally, negative polarity indicates that the speech or thought which the polar negative element qualifies, has not occurred: 'I did not say that he was guilty', 'He did not himself think that he was innocent'.

3) Transitivity and Clause Complexing:

As you know, the verbal and mental processes which project subordinate 'that'-clauses (for clauses whose 'direct' versions are in the declarative mood*) or independent clauses enclosed in inverted commas, are crucial in speech and thought presentation. You should already know that verbal processes project locution, whilst mental processes project thought, and that if verbal or mental processes project subordinate 'that'-clauses (for clauses whose 'direct' counterparts are in the declarative mood), the construction is hypotactic, and if they project independent clauses enclosed in inverted commas, it is paratactic. At this point, we may want to revise some points with reference to the possibilities of the inversion of the clauses of a clause complex of the projection type (which was dealt with in the lecture on clause complexing). We may note here that the non-inversion of paratactic elements also applies to projected constructions: i.e. 2^1 is still not possible, even though the projected clause can go before the projecting clause in parataxis: i.e. '"I am going to the market", he said' is an acceptable construction. A symbolic representation of the clause complex above however, is still ''1^2, and not ''2^1; i.e., the first clause is still the primary clause, even if it is the projected clause, and the second clause is still the secondary clause, even if it is the projecting clause (for the symbolic representation of this and the subsequent example, see pp. 228-30, 250-1, 445-6 of Halliday's Introduction). Another possibility in paratactic projection, is the inclusion of the primary clause in the secondary clause: eg. '"I am going", he said, "to the market"'. The symbolic representation of this construction is ''1<2> not ''2<1>, even though the clause complex actually starts with the projected clause. It is clear that one indicates the projected clause not through the number '2' (which is reserved for the physical or textual second clause in a paratactic construction), but through inverted commas.
        With reference to hypotactic projection (i.e. indirect speech and thought), left-branched and mid-branched constructions, unlike in hypotactic expansion, are not usually possible. In other words, it is usually the case that the dependent clause in 'He said that he was going to the market' can neither be fronted, nor inserted in the middle of the primary clause. As we have noted in the previous lecture (and in the earlier lecture on clause complexing), the fronting of the dependent clause through that-deletion actually changes the construction from a hypotactic to a paratactic one, and hence converts the speech or thought presentation from indirect to free indirect: eg. 'He was going to the market, he said', which is FIS, not IS (because the 'That' conjunction necessary for the indirect versions of declarative clauses cannot be inserted at the beginning of the sentence; see Halliday's table 7(12)).
        One question that may bother some of you in practical analysis (although this may not be an apparent problem in theory), is whether indirect discourse is possible in simple sentences. The answer of course, is that grammatically speaking, it is possible only with complex constructions. For example, 'John thought about the man' is not IT but NRTA, not only because it is not clear what John's exact thought about the man was, but also because, grammatically speaking, 'about the man' is a circumstantial adjunct and not a dependent clause. However, the 'about' preposition may also initiate a clause with a non- finite verb instead of an adjunct, and this may create some problems for our analysis: for example, 'He said about going to the market'. We may note here that the reporting of what is exactly being said is rather imprecise, and hence the sentence appears to be more inclined towards NRSA rather than IS. We may also note that in the strict grammatical sense, indirect speech involves the conversion of the exact clause uttered by the speaker into its reported equivalent.         However, it may be possible to have examples of direct speech where the projected clause is a minor clause, especially if the clause is incomplete due to ellipsis, as in 'He asked, "Why?"'. The conversion of such a clause to its indirect equivalent involves the retrieval of the elliptical element(s) which will make the reported clause grammatically complete. For instance, if the elliptical element in the DS clause complex just mentioned is 'he does not want to go', then the IS equivalent of 'He asked, "Why?"' is, 'He asked him why he did not want to go'. If the clause remains as 'He asked him why', then we are dealing with NRSA rather than IS.

* The conversion to an indirect construction for polar interrogatives, WH interrogatives, exclamatives, and imperatives may clearly involve subordinate conjunctions other than 'that': eg. 'whether' or 'if' for polar interrogatives, a wh- element for WH-interrogatives (or for WH-interrogatives with the pragmatic force of a command, the conversion to a non-finite dependent clause), the use of 'that' or the appropriate WH-element for exclamatives, and the conversion to a non-finite dependent clause usually initiated by 'to' for imperatives. In addition to grammatical mood, pragmatic force (a term which I mentioned in parentheses above, and which you may encounter again later this term), may also play a part in the use of the appropriate subordinate conjunction, or the conversion of the reported clause to a non-finite instead of a finite construction. In relation to the use of the 'to'-infinitive clause for the reported clause in indirect discourse, you may also find Halliday's distinction between propositions (consequential use of finite 'that'-clauses in indirect discourse) and proposals (consequential use of non-finite 'to'-clauses in indirect discourse) to be useful (see table 7(11)) in Halliday's Introduction). Back to earlier position in the text

4) Orthographic indicators:

Orthographic indicators, as you may know, may be quite crucial in speech and thought presentation. The deletion of the quotation marks in DS for example, immediately converts what is supposed to be DS to FDS. Paragraphing is also important in determining the speaker in DS or FDS, as each speaker is normally given an individual paragraph. To a certain extent also, paragraphing may help us to determine the thinker in thought presentation, especially when we are certain that there are instances of FDT or FIT in the text but are not sure who the thinker is. In this case, as mentioned earlier in this handout, the speaker or thinker indicated in the first sentence of the paragraph in which the FDT or FIT occurs, is the likely agent of the FDT or FIT.


Texts to Analyse

Extract from Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls
Extract from Woolf's Mrs Dalloway

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Last revised: 14 September 2006
© Ismail S. Talib 1996-2005.