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Represented Speech

There are three ways of reproducing actual speech: a) repetition of the exact utterance as it was spoken (direct s p e e c h), b) conversion of the exact utterance into the relater's mode of expression (i n-direct speech), and c) representation of the actual utterance by a second person, usually the author, as if it had been spoken, whereas it has not really been spoken but is only represented in the author's words (represented speech).

There is also a device which conveys to the reader the unuttered or inner speech of the character, thus presenting his thoughts and feelings. This device is also termed represented speech. To distinguish between the two varieties of represented speech we call the representation of the actual utterance through the author's language uttered represented speech, and the representation of the thoughts and feelings of the character — unuttered or inner represented speech.

The term direct speech came to be used in the belles-lettres style in order to distinguish the words of the character from the author's words. Actually, direct speech is a quotation. Therefore it is always introduced by a verb like say, utter, declare, reply, exclaim, shout, cry, yell, gasp, babble, chuckle, murmur, sigh, call, beg, implore, comfort,assure, protest, object, command, admit, and others. All these words help to indicate the intonation with which the sentence was actually uttered. Direct speech is always marked by inverted commas, as any quotation is. Here is an example:

"You want your money back, I suppose," said George with a sneer. "Of course I do—I always did, didn't I? says Dobbin. (Thackeray)

The most important feature of the spoken language—intonation— is indicated by different means. In the example above we have 1) graphical means: the dash after 'I do', 2) lexical: the word 'sneer', and 3) grammatical: a) morphological—different tenses of the verb to say ('said' and 'says'), b) syntactical: the disjunctive question—'didn't I?'.

Direct speech is sometimes used in the publicistic style of language as a quotation. The introductory words in this case are usually the following: as... has it, according to..., and the like.

In the belles-lettres style direct speech is used to depict a character through his speech.

In the emotive prose of the belles-lettres style where the predominant form of utterance is narrative, direct speech is inserted to more fully depict the characters of the novel. In the other variety of the belles-lettres prose style, i.e. in plays, the predominant form of utterance is dialogue. In spite of the various graphical and lexical ways of indicating the proper intonation of a given utterance, the subtleties of the intonation design required by the situation cannot be accurately conveyed. The richness of the human voice can only be suggested.

Direct speech can be viewed as a stylistic device only in its setting in the midst of the author's narrative or in contrast to all forms of indirect speech. Even when an author addresses the reader, we cannot classify the utterance as direct speech. Direct speech is only the speech of a character in a piece of emotive prose.

We have indirect speech when the actual words of a character, as it were, pass through the author's mouth in the course of his narrative and in this process undergo certain changes. The intonation of indirect speech is even and does not differ from the rest of the author's narrative. The graphical substitutes for the intonation give way to lexical units which describe the intonation pattern. Sometimes indirect speech takes the form of a précis in which only the main points of the actual utterance are given. Thus, for instance, in the following passage:

"Marshal asked the crowd to disperse and urged responsible diggers to prevent any disturbance which would prolong the tragic force of the rush for which the publication of inaccurate information was chiefly responsible." (Katherine Prichard)

In grammars there are rules according to which direct speech can be converted into indirect. These rules are logical in character, they merely indicate what changes must be introduced into the utterance due to change in the situation. Thus the sentence:

"Your mother wants you to go upstairs immediately" corresponds to "Tell him to come upstairs immediately."

When direct speech is converted into indirect, the author not infrequently interprets in his own way the manner in which the direct speech was uttered, thus very often changing the emotional colouring of the whole. Hence, indirect speech may fail entirely to reproduce the actual emotional colouring of the direct speech and may distort it unrecognizably. A change of meaning is inevitable when direct speech is turned into indirect or vice versa, inasmuch as any modification of form calls forth a slight difference in meaning.

It is probably due to this fact that in order to convey more adequately the actual utterances of characters in emotive prose, a new way to represent direct speech came into being—r ep resented speech.

Represented speech is that form of utterance which conveys the actual words of the speaker through the mouth of the writer but retains the peculiarities of the speaker's mode of expression.

Represented speech exists in two varieties: 1) uttered represented speech and 2) unuttered or inner represented speech.

a) Uttered Represented Speech

Uttered represented speech demands that the tense should be switched from present to past and that the personal pronouns should be changed from 1st and 2nd person to 3rd person as in indirect speech, but the syntactical structure of the utterance does not change. For example:

"Could he bring a reference from where he now was? He could." (Dreiser)

An interesting example of three ways of representing actual speech is to be seen in a conversation between Old Jolyon and June in Galsworthy's "Man of Property."

"Old Jolyon was on the alert at once. Wasn't the "man of property" going to live in his new house, then? He never alluded to Soames now but under this title.

'No'—June said—'he was not; she knew that he was not!' How did she know?

She could not tell him, but she knew. She knew nearly for certain. It was most unlikely; circumstances had changed!"

The first sentence is the author's speech. In the second sentence 'Wasn't the "man. .."' there is uttered represented speech: the actual speech must have been 'Isn't the. ..'. This sentence is followed by one from the author: 'He never...'. Then again comes uttered represented speech marked off in inverted commas, which is not usual. The direct speech 'No—', the introductory 'June said' and the following inverted commas make the sentence half direct half uttered represented speech. The next sentence 'How did she know?' and the following one are clear-cut models of uttered represented speech: all the peculiarities of direct speech are preserved,

i. e. the repetition of 'she knew', the colloquial 'nearly for certain', the absence of any connective between the last two sentences and, finally, the mark of exclamation at the end of the passage. And yet the tenses and pronouns here show that the actual utterance passes through the author's


Two more examples will suffice to illustrate the use of uttered represented speech.

"A maid came in now with a blue gown very thick and soft. Could she do anything for Miss Freeland? No, thanks, she could not, only, did she know where Mr. Freeland's room was?"


The shift from the author's speech to the uttered represented speech of the maid is marked only by the change in the syntactical pattern of the sentences from declarative to interrogative, or from the narrative pattern to the conversational.

Sometimes the shift is almost imperceptible—the author's narrative sliding over into the character's utterance without any formal indications of the switch-over, as in the following passage:

"She had known him for a full year when, in London for a while and as usual alone, she received a note from him to say that he had to come up to town for a night and couldn't they dine together and go to some place to dance. She thought it very sweet of him to take pity on her solitariness and accepted with pleasure. They spent a delightful evening." (Maugham)

This manner of inserting uttered represented speech within the author's narrative is not common. It is peculiar to the style of a number of modern English and American writers. The more usual structural model is one where there is either an indication of the shift by some introductory word (smiled, said, asked, etc.) or by a formal break like a full stop at the end of the sentence, as in:

"In consequence he was quick to suggest a walk... Didn't Clyde want to go?" (Dreiser)

Uttered represented speech has a long history. As far back as the 18th century it was already widely used by men-of-letters, evidently be- , cause it was a means by which what was considered vulgar might be excluded from literature, i.e. expletives, vivid colloquial words, expressions and syntactical structures typical of the lively colloquial speech of the period. Indeed, when direct speech is represented by the writer, he can change the actual utterance into any mode of expression he considers appropriate.

In Fielding's "History of Tom Jones the Foundling" we find various ways of introducing uttered represented speech. Here are some interesting examples:

"When dinner was over, and the servants departed, Mr. Alworthy began to harangue. He set forth, in a long speech, the many iniquities of which Jones had been guilty, particularly those which this day had brought to light; and concluded by telling him, 'That unless he could clear himself of the charge, he was resolved to banish him from his sight for ever."'

In this passage there is practically no represented speech, inasmuch as the words marked off by inverted commas are indirect speech, i.e. the author's speech with no elements of the character's speech, and the only signs of the change in the form of the utterance are the inverted commas and capital letter of 'That'. The following paragraph is built on the same pattern.

"His heart was, besides, almost broken already; and his spirits were so sunk, that he could say nothing for himself but acknowledge the whole, and, like a criminal in despair, threw himself upon mercy; concluding, 'that though he must own himself guilty of many follies and inadvertencies, he hoped he had done nothing to deserve what would be to him the greatest punishment in the world.'"

Here again the introductory 'concluding' does not bring forth direct speech but is a natural continuation of the author's narrative. The only indication of the change are the inverted commas.

Mr. Alworthy's answer is also built on the same pattern, the only modification being the direct speech at the end.

"—Alworthy answered, "That he had forgiven him too often already, in compassion to his youth, and in hopes of his amendment: that he now found he was an abandoned reprobate, and such as it would be criminal in any one to support and encourage," 'Nay,' said Mr. Alworthy to him, 'your audacious attempt to steal away the young lady, calls upon me to justify my own character in punishing you.—'"

Then follows a long speech by Mr. Alworthy not differing from indirect speech (the author's speech) either in structural design or in the choice of words. A critical analysis will show that the direct speech of the characters in the novel must have undergone considerable polishing up in order to force it to conform to the literary norms of the period. Colloquial speech, emotional, inconsistent and spontaneous, with its vivid intonation suggested by elliptical sentences, breaks in the narrative, fragmentariness and lack of connectives, was banned from literary usage and replaced by the passionless substitute of indirect speech.

Almost in any work of 18th century literary art one will find that the spoken language is adapted to conform to the norms of the written language of the period. It was only at the beginning of the 19th century that the elements of colloquial English began to elbow their way into the sacred precincts of the English literary language. The more the process became apparent, the more the conditions that this created became favourable for the introduction of uttered represented speech as a literary device.

In the modern belles-lettres prose style, the speech of the characters is modelled on natural colloquial patterns. The device of uttered represented speech enables the writer to reshape the utterance according to the normal polite literary usage.

Nowadays, this device is used not only in the belles-lettres style. It is also efficiently used in newspaper style. Here is an example:

"Mr. Silverman, his Parliamentary language scarcely concealing his bitter disappointment, accused the government of breaking its pledge and of violating constitutional proprieties.

Was the government basing its policy not on the considered judgment of the House of Commons, but on the considered judgment of the House of Lords?

Would it not be a grave breach of constitutional duty, not to give the House a reasonable opportunity of exercising its rights under the Parliament Act?"

'Wait for the terms of the Bill,' was Eden's reply."

Uttered represented speech in newspaper communications is somewhat different from that in the belles-lettres style. In the former, it is generally used to quote the words of speakers in Parliament or at public meetings.

b) Unuttered or Inner Represented Speech

As has often been pointed out, language has two functions: the communicative and the expressive. The communicative function serves to convey one's thoughts, volitions, emotions and orders to the mind of a second person. The expressive function serves to shape one's thoughts and emotions into language forms. This second function is believed to be the only way of materializing thoughts and emotions. Without language forms thought is not yet thought but only something being shaped as thought. The thoughts and feelings going on in one's mind and reflecting some previous experience are called i n n e r spec c h.

Inasmuch as inner speech has no communicative function, it is very fragmentary, incoherent, isolated, and consists of separate units which only hint at the content of the utterance but do not word it explicitly. Inner speech is a psychological phenomenon. But when it is wrought into full utterance, it ceases to be inner speech, acquires a communicative function and becomes a phenomenon of language. The expressive function of language is suppressed by its communicative function, and the reader is presented with a complete language unit capable of carrying information. This device is called inner represented speech.

However, the language forms of inner represented speech bear a resemblance to the psychological phenomenon of inner speech. Inner represented speech retains the most characteristic features of inner speech. It is also fragmentary, but only to an extent which will not hinder the understanding of the communication.

Inner represented speech, unlike uttered represented speech, expresses feelings and thoughts of the character which were not materialized in spoken or written language by the character. That is why it abounds in exclamatory words and phrases, elliptical constructions, breaks, and other means of conveying feelings and psychological states. When a person is alone with his thoughts and feelings, he can give vent to those strong emotions which he usually keeps hidden. Here is an example from Galsworthy's "Man of Property":

"His nervousness about this disclosure irritated him profoundly; she had no business to make him feel like that—a wife and a husband being one person. She had not looked at him once since they sat down, and he wondered what on earth she had been thinking about all the time. It was hard, when a man worked hard as he did, making money for her—yes and with an ache in his heart—that she should sit there, looking—looking as if she saw the walls of the room closing in. It was enough to make a man get up and leave the table."

The inner speech of Soames Forsyte is here introduced by two words describing his state of mind—'irritated' and 'wondered'. The colloquial aspect of the language in which Soames's thoughts and feelings are expressed is obvious. He uses colloquial collocations: 'she had no business', 'what on earth', 'like that' and colloquial constructions: 'yes and with...', 'looking—looking as if ...', and the words used are common colloquial.

Unuttered or inner represented speech follows the same morphological pattern as uttered represented speech, but the syntactical pattern shows variations which can be accounted for by the fact that it is inner speech, not uttered speech. The tense forms are shifted to the past; the third person personal pronouns replace the first and second. The interrogative word-order is maintained as in direct speech. The fragmentary character of the utterance manifests itself in unfinished sentences, exclamations and in one-member sentences.

Here is another example:

"An idea had occurred to Soames. His cousin Jolyon was Irene's trustee, the first step would be to go down and see him at Robin Hill. Robin Hill! The odd—the very odd feeling those words brought back. Robin Hill—the house Bosinney had built for him and Irene— the house they had never lived in—the fatal house! And Jolyon lived there now! H'm!" (Galsworthy)

This device is undoubtedly an excellent one to depict a character. It gives the writer an opportunity to show the inner springs which guide his character's actions and utterances. Being a combination of the author's speech and that of the character, inner represented speech, on the one hand, fully discloses the feelings and thoughts of the character, his world outlook, and, on the other hand, through efficient and sometimes hardly perceptible interpolations by the author himself, makes the desired impact on the reader.

In English and American literature this device has gained vogue in the works of the writers of the last two centuries—Jane Austen, Thackeray, Dickens, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Jack London, Galsworthy, Dreiser, Somerset Maugham and others. Every writer has his own way of using represented speech. Careful linguistic analysis of individual peculiarities in using it will show its wide range of function and will expand the hitherto limited notions of its use.

Inner represented speech, unlike uttered represented speech, is usually introduced by verbs of mental perception, as think, meditate, feel, occur (an idea occurred to...), wonder, ask, tell oneself, understand and the like. For example:

"Over and over he was asking himself: would she receive him? would she recognize him? what should he say to her?" "Why weren't things going well between them? he wondered."

Very frequently, however, inner represented speech thrusts itself into the narrative of the author without any introductory words and the shift from the author's speech to inner represented speech is more or less imperceptible. Sometimes the one glides into the other, sometimes there is a sudden clear-cut change in the mode of expression. Here are examples:

"Butler was sorry that he had called his youngest a baggage; but these children—God bless his soul—were a great annoyance. Why, in the name of all the saints, wasn't this house good enough

for them?" (Dreiser)

The only indication of the transfer from the author's speech to inner represented speech is the semicolon which suggests a longish pause. The emotional tension of the inner represented speech is enhanced by the emphatic these (in 'these children'), by the exclamatory sentences 'God bless his soul' and 'in the name of all the saints'. This emotional charge gives an additional shade of meaning to the 'was sorry' in the author's statement, viz. Butler was sorry, but he was also trying to justify himself for calling his daughter names.

And here is an example of a practically imperceptible shift:

"Then, too, in old Jolyon's mind was always the secret ache that the son of James—of James, whom he had always thought such a poor thing, should be pursuing the paths of success, while his own son—!" (Galsworthy)

In this passage there are hardly any signs of the shift except, perhaps, the repetition of the words 'of James'. Then comes what is half the author's narrative, half the thoughts of the character, the inner speech coming to the surface in 'poor thing' (a colloquialism) and the sudden break after 'his own son' and the mark of exclamation.

Inner represented speech remains the monopoly of the belles-lettres style, and especially of emotive prose, a variety of it. There is hardly any likelihood of this device being used in other styles, due to its specific function, which is to penetrate into the inner life of the personages of an imaginary world, which is the exclusive domain of belles-lettres.


Date: 2014-12-29; view: 17738

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