Performed narrative

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This chapter is an investigation of an innovation in the quotative system in London and it addresses the question of how and why such innovations emerge. The paper compares and contrasts the (socio-)linguistic profile and discourse functions of <i>be like</i> and the even newer <i>this is</i> + <i>speaker</i> using a combination of variationist quantitative methods and discourse analytic qualitative methods. It is argued that the alternation of different quotatives can be seen as a performance feature and that new quotatives fulfil the pragmatic function of highlighting a particularly dramatic peak in performed narratives. In London <i>be like</i> is behaving more like lexical verbs such as <i>say</i>, leaving a gap in the system for the emergence of the innovative <i>this is</i> + <i>speaker</i>. In many ways, this new competitor parallels <i>be like</i> when it was first reported, strengthening the argument that new quotatives have a specific role in the discourse.


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