In the spirit of Talmy’s recent remark on desirable extensions of cognitive semantics into discourse analysis and multimodality, this paper outlines an agenda for framing quotation as an attention- and modality-sensitive phenomenon. A quotation’s distinct discourse function by itself – naturally – calls for an attention-driven analysis, and the representational subsystems of language yield modality-specific manifestations: Conventionalized figural delimiters prompt quotations’ metalinguistic and verbatim status in writing, while in (casual) speech they tend to stand out through vocal dynamics and visible bodily actions. With recourse to Talmy’s attention-based trigger-and-target construct, I will scrutinize a cross-section of videotaped samples of quoting by experienced us speakers from different speech genres in public settings, to demonstrate orally performed quotations’ responsiveness to attentional gradience: Exhibiting patterns of activation, attenuation, inhibition, and sustainment in indexing ‘the other voice,’ the case studies illustrate multiple effects of fore- and backgrounding ensuing from the different modalities’ complex interactions.
Elaborating on Talmy (, forthcoming) and Lampert (, ), this follow- up study probes into quoting as an attention-and modality-sensitive phenomenon at the interface of speech and writing, taking inaugural addresses from Kennedy to Obama as cases in point.
Lexicalized to redirect some attention from a quotation’s referential content to concomitants closely associated with it, quotatives medium-specifically prime speech-internal properties of their targets, animating the ‘other voice’ through prosodic and gestural prompts in face-to-face interactions, while figural prompts demarcate verbatim citations in print.
Quotations from pre-scripted videotaped presidential inaugurals reveal a fundamental underlying cognitive principle: The orators refrain from ‘translating’ the figural delimiters into prosodic and gestural primes but rely on verbal primes to acknowledge another voice. Corroborating Talmy’s () analysis of the verbal mode’s evolutionary advantage over the analog devices available to the channels of oral performance, the quotative construction proves ultimately governed by a linguistic medium’s production and reception circumstances.