Shan on Metadiscourse Today

For all who are semantically inclined: Ken Shan is speaking in Psychology Frisem today, 3:15-4:30 pm, room 050 (basement of Jordan Hall). The abstract is below.

Metadiscourse as unquotation
Chung-chieh Shan

In 2009, I attended two talks at Rutgers University given by Herbert Clark. In the first talk, he discussed depiction as a method of communication and singled out quotation as an instance of depiction (Clark and Gerrig 1990). In the second talk, he argued that disfluencies in spontaneous speech, such as uh and um, are conventional signals that bounded-rational speakers use to coordinate their performance (Clark 2004, Clark and Fox Tree 2002). Of course, these two topics are thematically related — for example, they are both aspects of communication that linguists tend to neglect — but I claim that they are related more deeply.

It turns out that what Clark calls collateral signals can be analyzed in terms of quotation — or more precisely, in terms of unquotation, as if the at-issue discourse is wholly quoted itself. I’ll show that mixed (or hybrid) quotation and unquotation constitute a general facility for metadiscourse and layering (Clark 1996), drawing from Brian Smith’s early work on reflection in programming languages (Smith 1982).