Defenestration: deconstructing the frame-in relation in Ungarinyin

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The Australian Aboriginal language Ungarinyin (Worrorran) has one single complex-clause construction for expressing reported speech (`say'), that can also signal reported thought (`think') and attribute intentions (`want'). By demonstrating which formal and functional distinctions are essential to the interpretation of this Ungarinyin construction, the present paper aims to contribute to understanding the exact nature of the syntactic relation involved in reported speech constructions. Following the account of McGregor (1994; 1997; 2008), I analyse the clausal syntax of reported speech constructions as a dedicated syntactic relation, separate from more familiar clausal relations such as coordination and subordination. I call this relation the `frame-in' construction. Subsequently, I compare the conventionalised reported speech construction in Ungarinyin to a variety of more loosely integrated non-conventionalised or semi-conventionalised strategies for expressing speech and thought attribution in the language. Collectively I refer to these strategies as examples of `defenestration', constructions without the typical marking of the syntactic frame-in relation, while expressing the meaning associated with a regular frame-in construction. Instances of defenestration differ from syntactic frame-in in that they express the meaning of a frame-in construction through transparent compositional means. I argue that types of defenestration show remarkable regularities in Ungarinyin, and, tentatively, crosslinguistically, which has consequences for the analysis of indexicality and iconicity in syntax and presents a new context for analysing the syntax of reported speech constructions in relation to multimodal features, particulary for the category of free (in)direct speech and `zero quotatives'.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Pages (from-to)104-133
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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