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[WS108] Indexicals in Free Indirect Discourse


Authors : Anne Reboul, Jacques Jayez

Title : Indexicals in Free Indirect Discourse

Indexicals are defined by the fact that they can only be interpreted relative to a context, including at least a speaker, a hearer, a time and a location. Discourse and thought can be reported in three ways: as direct discourse (e.g., John said: «I am a genius»); as indirect discourse (e.g., John said that he was a genius); as free indirect discourse (e.g., He was a genius(, said John)). Basically, the differences between direct and indirect discourse seem to rest on how the indexicals in the clause reporting the utterance or thought are interpreted: relative to the context in which the reported utterance was produced for direct discourse; relative to the context in which the reporting utterance is produced for indirect discourse. Free indirect discourse seems to be a mix between direct discourse and indirect discourse and its most striking feature is that its indexicals seem to be interpreted both relative to the context in which the reported speech was produced, and relative to the context in which the reporting speech was produced. The characterization of free indirect discourse has been the object of disagreement, with some taking it to be a variant of direct discourse (Schlenker 2004), others taking it to be a variant of indirect discourse (Sharvit 2004, 2008), while one might defend the view that it could best described along the lines of mixed quotation (see Maier 2007), with consequences on the way the indexicals in it are used.

In reports, indexicals can be used de re, de dicto and, at least for the 1st person singular pronoun, or its quasi-indicator 3rd person counterpart, de se. Though it was originally thought, following Kaplan (1989), that in indirect discourse, indexicals were only used de re, this has been disputed, based on both philosophical (see Castañeda 1989) and linguistic (Schlenker 1999) grounds. How they are used in free indirect style depends to a large extent on whether free indirect style is seen as a variety of direct discourse or of indirect discourse or as mixed quotation. Recent literature leads one to reconsider even more broadly the various ways of categorizing metalinguistic phenomena, either because the existing categorizations are rejected (Cappelen and Lepore 2007), or because some apparently external notions are brought into the picture (e.g. presuppositions, Maier 2009).

The workshop’s goal is to bring all the actors of this debate together, offer them the opportunity of presenting and defending their views in the same arena. Each contributor will have 45 minutes of presentation and 15 of questions. One hour will be used for discussion between the contributors in a round table format. The organizers will introduce and moderate the debate.



François Recanati, Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS, Paris:

Philippe Schlenker, Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS, Paris; NYU, New York:

Eros Corazza, Carleton University, Ottawa:

Emar Maier, University of Groningen, Groningen:

Yael Sharvit, UCLA, Los Angeles:



Cappelen, H. and Lepore, E. (2007) Language Turned on Itself : The Semantics and Pragmatics of Metalinguistic Discourse, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Castañeda, H.N. (1989) Thinking, language & experience, Minneapolis, Univ. of Minnesota Press.

Kaplan, D. (1989) "Demonstratives". In Almog, J., Perry, J., and Wettstein, H. (eds) Themes from Kaplan, New York, Oxford University Press, 481-614.

Maier, E. (2007) «Mixed quotation between use and mention», Proceedings of LENLS 2007. Miyazaki, Japan.

Maier, E. (2009) « Presupposing acquaintance: a unified semantics for de dicto, de re and de se belief reports », Linguistics and Philosophy 32, 429-474.

Schlenker, P. (1999) Propositional Attitudes and Indexicality (A Cross-Categorial Approach), Ph.D Dissertation, MIT, September 1999.

Schlenker, P. (2004) "Context of thought and context of utterance", Mind & Language 19/3, 279-304.

Sharvit, Y. (2004) "Free Indirect Discourse and ‘De Re’ Pronouns", Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 14, CLC Publications, Cornell University, 305-322.

Sharvit, Y. (2008) "The puzzle of free indirect discourse", Linguistics and Philosophy 31, 353-395.

22.07.2013   10:30-12:30


10:30 - 11:30 Anne REBOUL
Indexicals and free indirect style
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11:30 - 12:30 Orin PERCUS
FID for the naive
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22.07.2013   14:00-16:00


14:00 - 15:00 Emar MAIER
Quotation and Unquotation in Free Indirect Discourse
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15:00 - 16:00 Philippe SCHLENKER
Context Shift, Role Shift and Quotation
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22.07.2013   16:30-17:30


16:30 - 17:30 Regine ECKARDT
What does, and doesn't shift - The rôle of speakers in free indirect speech
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