Meuser, Sara (2022). How Free is Free Indirect Discourse? Empirical Approaches to the Anchoring Mechanisms of Perspective-taking. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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This dissertation presents a discussion and empirical investigation of the anchoring mechanisms of free indirect discourse. Its main focus is on the claim that a discourse referent must be sufficiently activated in a linguistic context in order to serve as the anchor for a sentence in free indirect discourse mode. This issue becomes particularly pressing whenever more than one discourse referent is available as the perspectival center. I want to argue that whenever several referents compete, the referent with the highest activation is preferred as the perspectival center, while a sentence in FID mode anchored to a less activated referent sounds rather unnatural. To approach this claim, I provide a number of examples that illustrate that the anchoring of free indirect discourse is related to linguistic activation. The observations indicate that: (i) referents in subject position are preferred as anchors over referents in object position, (ii) referents that are introduced with a proper name are preferred as anchors over referents that are introduced with an indefinite noun phrase, (iii) referents that are activated in a larger context are preferred over referents that are activated in the sentence preceding the free indirect discourse, and (iv) referents that are assigned particular verbal features are preferred over competing referents. In order to account for these observations, I present the results of a series of psycholinguistic experiments that indicate an effect of grammatical function, referential expression, global activation, and verbal features assigned to the referents by the verb in the preceding context on the anchoring of free indirect discourse. Ultimately, the findings presented in this thesis indicate that the anchoring of free indirect discourse is not arbitrary but determined by referential activation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Meuser, Sarasara.meuser@gmx.deUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-641298
Date: 2022
Language: English
Faculty: Collaborative Research Centers
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 3: Deutsche Sprache und Literatur > Institut für Deutsche Sprache und Literatur I
Subjects: Language, Linguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords:
free indirect discourseEnglish
grammatical functionEnglish
verb semanticsEnglish
Date of oral exam: 24 October 2022
NameAcademic Title
Hinterwimmer, StefanPD Dr.
Refereed: Yes


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