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Direct speech reports and the cline of prosodic integration in Dolakha Newar


Direct speech reporting is a rhetorical strategy used frequently in the production of Dolakha Newar narrative. Direct speech reports are syntactically uniform in constituting center-embedded objects of ditransitive verbs. Prosodically, they show a wide range of behaviors. They may be set off from the surrounding quotative frame by intonation-unit boundaries, variations in pitch or loudness, and/or the production of contours typical of conversational speech. They may also be produced across multiple intonation units and may show patterns of macro-level prosodic structuring indicative of internal prosodic coherence and embedding within higher-level structures. On the other hand, they may exhibit none of these prosodic characteristics and be prosodically integrated with respect to the quotative frame. This variable behavior results from competition among a variety of pressures, including speakers’ performative goals, the syntax of complementation, the rhetorical impact of the quoted speech, performance factors, and inter-speaker variation in style, among others. While statistical analyses might fruitfully be applied to objectively quantifiable factors, a purely statistical model will never fully predict prosodic behavior, due to the meaningful nature of prosody and intangible features of individuals in the production of discourse.

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