Journal of Linguistics

Research Article

Communication and the representation of thought: The use of audience-directed expressions in free indirect thought representations1


a1 University of Salford


This paper examines the use of audience-directed or inherently communicative expressions (discourse markers and interjections) in free indirect thought representations in fiction. It argues that the insights of Banfield's (1982) no-narrator approach to free indirect style can be accommodated in a relevance theoretic framework. The result is an account in which the author's act of revealing a character's thoughts communicates a guarantee of optimal relevance – a guarantee which justifies the effort which the reader invests in deriving meta-representations of those thoughts from the evidence which the author provides. However, the reward for this effort is a meta-representation of a character's thoughts which is unmediated by the thoughts of the author who is responsible for producing the text. Using examples from fiction, I show that within this framework, the use of procedurally encoded discourse markers and interjections contribute to this sense of immediacy by imposing constraints on interpretation which leave the reader with the responsibility for deriving his own interpretations of a character's thoughts and thought processes.

(Received May 18 2009)

(Revised September 04 2009)

(Online publication December 14 2009)


c1 Author's address: School of Languages, University of Salford, Salford, Greater Manchester M5 4WT, UK


[1] I am extremely grateful to Nigel Fabb and two anonymous JL referees for comments on earlier versions of this paper. Obviously, they are not to be held responsible for any of the arguments it contains.