Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Linguistics (Interdepartmental Program)

First Advisor

George Yule


In this study of constructed dialogue in natural conversations involving four American women, attention is drawn to how reporting speakers make use of different quotative forms to introduce utterances represented with direct speech forms. There is an attempt to account for the functions of such quotative forms in terms of discourse structure and the interpersonal relationships of the participants. In one closely-examined narrative, the present tense forms of several quotatives (is, says, goes, and be like) are used to introduce constructed dialogue which seems to be that part of the narrative that the speaker intends to foreground, while the past tense is reserved for background details which set the stage for the drama. Furthermore, be like is reserved for one character, and appears to be used to mark the nearness of the character to the source of the narrative. That be like is a marker of closeness to the source of a telling may be further supported by the fact that be like occurs with greater frequency as a quotative with reports attributed to first person speakers than third person speakers. Another feature of constructed dialogue which is analyzed is the use of zero-quotative. This term is used to refer to the absence of both an introducing verb and attributed speaker before direct speech forms. Zero-quotatives appear to be favored when the omission of a quotative may serve some dramatic effect, such as being an iconic representation of one aspect of the reported interaction. Zero-quotatives also are favored at sites where the participants display strong convergence behavior. At such sites, although the constructed utterances are referentially attributed to only one of the speakers, the absence of a quotative allows the speakers to avoid explicitly attributing the utterances to either speaker, thus allowing them to stress their similarity by constructing utterances which may be spoken by either. Where direct speech forms appearing without a quotative must be referentially attributed to another character, the lack of explicit attribution again allows the speakers to merge their voices to underscore their shared knowledge and experience.