The Function of Reported Language in the Discourse of Neswpaper Reports

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Direct and indirect forms of presentation have become an integral part of newspaper reports. This paper presents preliminary findings obtained in an early phase of research into the function of reported language in the discourse of British broadsheet newspapers. The aim of the research is threefold: first, to ascertain the ratio of reported and non-reported language; second, to identify the main types of reported language and their frequency of occurrence; third, to determine the function of reported language in this type of discourse. The main types of reported language examined include direct and indirect forms, mixed forms and fragmented forms. More general pragmatic functions of reported language in newspaper reports are set against the analysis of functional coherence relations within the framework of Rhetorical Structure Theory. The paper offers tentative suggestions concerning the communicative intentions reported language helps to achieve most often. The data suggest that individual types of reported language participate in the construction of a small number of relations; moreover, there seem to be a connection between a particular form of reported language and its nuclear/satellite status in a given relation. Though the conclusions must be taken as tentative rather than definite due to a limited amount of data gathered so far, they might be used as a good working hypothesis about the ways reported language is put to use in the quality British press.


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