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'It's not good saying 'Well it it might do that or it might not'': hypothetical reported speech in business meetings

Koester, Almut and Handford, Michael 2018. 'It's not good saying 'Well it it might do that or it might not'': hypothetical reported speech in business meetings. Journal of Pragmatics 130 , pp. 67-80. 10.1016/j.pragma.2018.03.005

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This article examines the use of direct reported speech in business meetings that is framed by the speaker as hypothetical. While the past two decades have seen many empirical studies on direct reported speech (DRS) in spoken interactions, fewer have focused specifically on hypothetical reported speech (HRS). This study identifies and examines the discourse patterns and sequences used to perform HRS in a 1-million-word corpus of business interactions, and explores the reasons why HRS is used. As such, it is the first study to locate and examine this discourse phenomenon across a spoken business corpus. Through the application of an original methodology, HRS was found to occur as part of specific sequential patterns, and was used largely as a persuasive device, fulfilling a range of related rhetorical functions. Like DRS, HRS can project either a sense of involvement or detachment, but unlike DRS, also allows speakers to generalise; detachment and generalisability being particularly relevant to a business context. The research provides a theoretical contribution on the use of HRS, indicating that HRS is used strategically in professional contexts, often by senior employees, not only to persuade others but also to bring about change in action relevant to the professional practice of the organisation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0378-2166
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 November 2018
Date of Acceptance: 6 March 2018
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 18:45

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