Speech-bundles in the 19th-century English novel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Nottingham

Abstract

We propose a lexico-grammatical approach to speech in fiction based on the centrality of ‘fictional speech-bundles’ as the key element of fictional talk. To identify fictional speech-bundles, we use three corpora of 19th-century fiction that are available through the corpus stylistic web application CLiC (Corpus Linguistics in Context). We focus on the ‘quotes’ subsets of the corpora, i.e. text within quotation marks, which is mostly equivalent to direct speech. These quotes subsets are compared across the fiction corpora and with the spoken component of the British National Corpus 1994. The comparisons illustrate how fictional speech-bundles can be described on a continuum from lexical bundles in real spoken language to repeated sequences of words that are specific to individual fictional characters. Typical functions of fictional speech-bundles are the description of interactions and interpersonal relationships of fictional characters. While our approach crucially depends on an innovative corpus linguistic methodology, it also draws on theoretical insights into spoken grammar and characterisation in fiction in order to question traditional notions of realism and authenticity in fictional speech.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: Mahlberg Michaela Wiegand Viola University of Birmingham, UK Stockwell Peter University of Nottingham, UK Hennessey Anthony University of Birmingham, UK Michaela Mahlberg, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK. Email: m.a.mahlberg@bham.ac.uk 11 2019 28 4 326 353 © The Author(s) 2019 2019 SAGE Publications This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ ) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page ( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage ). We propose a lexico-grammatical approach to speech in fiction based on the centrality of ‘fictional speech-bundles’ as the key element of fictional talk. To identify fictional speech-bundles, we use three corpora of 19th-century fiction that are available through the corpus stylistic web application CLiC (Corpus Linguistics in Context). We focus on the ‘quotes’ subsets of the corpora, i.e. text within quotation marks, which is mostly equivalent to direct speech. These quotes subsets are compared across the fiction corpora and with the spoken component of the British National Corpus 1994. The comparisons illustrate how fictional speech-bundles can be described on a continuum from lexical bundles in real spoken language to repeated sequences of words that are specific to individual fictional characters. Typical functions of fictional speech-bundles are the description of interactions and interpersonal relationships of fictional characters. While our approach crucially depends on an innovative corpus linguistic methodology, it also draws on theoretical insights into spoken grammar and characterisation in fiction in order to question traditional notions of realism and authenticity in fictional speech. CLiC characterisation corpus linguistics lexical bundles 19th-century fiction realism spoken grammar typesetter ts1 Declaration of conflicting interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. Funding The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant number AH/P504634/1). Supplemental material Supplemental material for this article is available online. Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2019. Copyright: Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-353
Number of pages28
JournalLanguage and Literature
Volume28
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • CLiC, Characterisation, Corpus linguistics, Lexical bundles, Nineteenth century fiction, Realism, Spoken grammar