Reporting and social role construction in eighteenth-century personal correspondence

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Choosing who and what to report, writers adopt a position in interaction that serves their needs and expectations of the situation as well as the addressee’s expected needs. In this paper, we study reporting from a socio-pragmatic perspective with the aim of understanding the function of reporting in the communicative situations in which it occurs in eighteenth-century personal letters. Our analysis pays attention to the role of the reporter vis-à-vis the addressee, the reporting situation, the subject matter of the report, the identity of the person whose speech is reported, and the form of the reporting frame. The results suggest that reporting in eighteenth-century personal correspondence exhibits genre-specific characteristics but also relates to the writer’s role in the situation.


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