Phrases in literary contexts: patterns and distributions of suspensions in Dickens's novels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


External organisations

  • University of Nottingham


This paper addresses relations between lexico-grammatical patterns and texts. Our focus is on a specific linguistic unit, the 'suspended quotation' (or 'suspension'), which has received particular attention in Dickens studies. The suspended quotation refers to an interruption of a fictional character's speech by the narrator with a sequence of at least five words. We show how corpus linguistic methods can help to systematically study suspensions in a corpus of Dickens's novels: we investigate relationships between patterns of body language presentation and suspensions; we consider the distribution of suspensions across novels; and we illustrate how patterns in suspensions relate to meanings of reporting verbs. Overall, we argue that suspensions are discernible units that contribute to meaningful patterns in narrative prose.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-56
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Corpus Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • Dickens, body language presentation, reporting verbs, suspended quotation, suspension annotation