Impersonal quotation and hypothetical discourse

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This chapter uses Conversation Analysis to study hypothetical reported discourse, that is, reportings consisting of discourse that is entirely fictitious. The paper demonstrates that hypothetical discourse in German is used for three different interactional functions: (a) to model the discourse of others, (b) to back or illustrate a claim in challenges, accounts or explanations, and (c) to (co-)construct humorous stories. In the first environment, the hypothetical discourse is produced in response to a prior turn (typically a complaint). In the latter two environments, the producer of the hypothetical discourse first utters an assessment which is then subsequently illustrated with hypothetical discourse. The paper discusses both the interactional functions and the turn design of hypothetical discourse, outlining how hypothetical discourse accomplishes actions different from those of other forms of reported discourse in German and English data.


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