- Reanimated voices: Speech reporting in a historical-pragmatic perspective by Daniel E. Collins
Daniel E. Collins’s Reanimated voices is a valuable contribution to the study of the burgeoning field of historical pragmatics. Drawing upon 154 medieval Russian trial transcripts of detailed protocols of trial hearings ‘written in the chancery variety of Old Russian during the early Muscovite period (ca. 1410–1505)’ (xiii), C explores what motivated those medieval writers to choose a particular reported speech and ‘how contextualization conditions reflect collectively and individually purposive use of speech reporting strategies’ (xvi). C compellingly demonstrates that, ‘with only written texts as a guide’ (285), one can ‘really reconstruct aspects of pragmatic competence and so reanimate, as it were, the silenced voices of premodern writers’ (285).
The book contains nine chapters. Ch. 1 (1–26) addresses the pragmatics of reported speech, highlighting its particular significance for pragmatics. After pointing out some shortcomings of nonpragmatic reductionist approaches to reported speech, C introduces the method for historical-pragmatic analysis adopted in this study, viz. the ‘method of residual forms’. Ch. 2 (27–34) presents a pragmaphilological overview of the text-kind of trial transcripts used in the work. Ch. 3 (35–74) covers the standard reporting strategy of direct speech in testimonies, with particular emphasis placed on the factors making direct [End Page 217] speech ‘the preferred strategy for reporting dialogic testimony in the narrative framework of trial transcripts’ (49).
In Ch. 4 (75–150), C discusses at great length residual forms in testimony. For C, residual forms ‘reflect rationally grounded acts of reporting’ (75) but in different contextualizations from the prototypical speech event. C touches upon participial tags, alternative tag verbs, free (in)direct speech, complementized indirect speech with a preposed tag, fused reported speech, and narrative reports of speech acts. Ch. 5 (151–76) addresses the question framework. In Ch. 6 (177–202), C deals mainly with some categories of reports in judicial-referred records, namely, verifications, falsifications, and preliminary reports.
Ch. 7 (203–44) is about layered reports, examining additional layers of direct speech, (un)complementized indirect speech, and fused reported speech. This chapter also deals with functions of intercalated tags and narrative reports of speech acts. Ch. 8 (245–84) discusses reported speech in the adjudication and in the judges’ ratio decidendi. In Ch. 9 (285–302), C elucidates the purposiveness of reporting in trial transcripts, sums up the main functions of the reporting strategies in the corpus, and points out methodological implications of the case study. This volume ends with notes on each chapter, references, an appendix listing text-kind and date of the investigated trial transcripts, a name index, and a subject index.
Students of historical pragmatics in general, and of reported speech in particular, will find this is an important monograph that provides a theoretically sound and methodologically valid, if not well-balanced (with some chapters rather short, esp. Chs. 2, 5, and 6), account of ‘reporting in medieval Russian trial transcripts’ (298). Through a successful genrebased approach to patterns of lexical and syntactic usage, this volume certainly sheds some new light on further functionalist research on language in use. However, one might find this otherwise fine book, regretfully, somewhat reader-unfriendly, with, among other things, a formidable deployment of terminology throughout and an unfortunate absence of abbreviations for technical terms.