What is better to say, speech or style, reported speech (singular) or reported speech (plural)? We know that discourse is a form of narration that is opposed to narrative. Each mode uses a temporal system which distinguishes it and which serves to place it on the time axis depending on whether it is anchored or not anchored in the situation of enunciation. However, the word discourse is also used to designate the speech of a character in a novel and its mode of integration into the narrator’s statement. The use of the word discourse to designate both a mode of narration on the one hand and on the other the speech of the character in the novel and its mode of integration, creates for the user of the French language a situation of ambiguity and terminological clashes. It would be fairer, it seems to me, to use the word style rather than the word discourse because it is much more akin to a particular way of writing than to a fact of syntax.
On the other hand, it also seems to me that speech reported in the singular is opposed to speech reported in the plural. The singular includes direct and indirect speech and leaves aside other types such as free indirect speech, free direct speech and narrativized speech. The reported speeches cover all existing types.
However, talking about speech reported in isolation means expatriating it from its environment where it is usually housed. We could therefore not evoke reported speech without reporting speech, nor integrated speech without integrating, nor, either, speech carried without carrier. It’s a couple, a duo, a pair. One cannot go without the other.
If the reported speech is that of the character, the reporting speech is that of the narrator. However, we can be asked in what way the reported speech is integrated into the reporting speech, or the character’s speech into the narrator’s speech. I will try to illustrate my remarks with a few examples borrowed from authors.
A-Direct speech or directly reported speech.
Direct speech or directly reported speech is the character’s speech. Its particularity is that it is transcribed as it was formulated by the character: speaking peasant, bourgeois, rude, polite, high, low, relaxed, … Two things can challenge us and to which we must respond, namely the mode and the means of integration.
Mode of integration: direct speech1 is integrated as is into the narrator’s speech2.
Means of integration: the means of integration are linked to the location of the elements of the narrator’s statement in relation to direct speech: hyphen, quotation marks, colon, inversion of the subject and the verb
The light dimmed for a second, my mother snuffed out the candle with a pair of rusty scissors. She took the opportunity to declare: ”The candles are becoming of lesser quality, one is needed every day and the room seems gloomy with all these shadows gathering in the corners”3
B-Indirect speech or reported speech partially integrated into the narrator’s utterance.
The narrator integrates the character’s speech into his statement by making certain modifications. However, the boundaries between one and the other remain present.
Mode of integration: partial integration of direct speech into the narrator’s statement.
Means of integration: They are numerous and varied depending on the types of sentences reported and integrated into the narrator’s statement.
The declarative type is integrated by: that
The imperative type by: de+infinitive
The interrogative type by: if; that ; what ; question words like: why, how, where; what ; how long…
The light dimmed for a second, my mother snuffed out the candle with a pair of rusty scissors. She took the opportunity to declare that the candles were becoming of poor quality, that one was needed every day and that the room seemed gloomy with all the shadows gathering in the corners.4
C-Free indirect speech or speech: it is a speech straddling the character’s speech and the narrator’s statement. But it is closer to that of the narrator than to that of the character.
Tonight, my mother will have sun and moon bracelets on her wrists. Rahma will be green with jealousy. For several days, I heard him say without mirth: ”I no longer have any luck, I married an unfortunate plow manufacturer; he is barely able to offer me a rope to get the water out of the well. Ah! Allah has made a very poor decision between humans. To this one suffering and misery, to others prosperity, good food, gold and silver jewelry. My God ! When will my sentence end?”5
2- Transposition from direct speech to free indirect speech:
Tonight, my mother will have sun and moon bracelets on her wrists. Rahma will be green with jealousy. For several days I will hear him moaning and groaning. [Elle n’a plus de chance, elle a épousé un malheureux fabricant de charrues ; il est à peine capable de lui offrir une corde pour sortir l’eau du puits. Ah ! Allah a bien mal départagé les humains. A celle-ci les souffrances et la misère, à d’autres la prospérité, la bonne nourriture, les bijoux d’or et d’argent. Mon Dieu ! Quand finira sa peine ?]5
Mode of integration: Free indirect speech must necessarily rely on the statement of the narrator for whom it serves as a support. However, between one and the other, there are no markers of linguistic transition but only phonatory to oral.
Means of integration: – the verb tenses and grammatical anaphoras of free indirect speech are of the same nature as those of the narrator’s statement. Grammatical anaphoras are those of the third person singular and plural.
D-Free direct speech: Like free indirect speech, it is located between the speech of the character and that of the narrator. Conversely, it is closer to that of the character than to that of the narrator.
My angry mother began to curse the dellal, to invoke all the saints she knew so that they would inflict on him the harsh punishment he deserves.[ C’était une honte de se conduire ainsi avec les honnêtes gens ! Que devait-il combiner pendant cette longue absence ? Nous prenait-il pour des campagnards ignorants ? Nous sauront démasquer la vérité. Nous paierons le prix équitable et nous ne nous laisserons pas rouler par ce mécréant]. But the disbeliever was still invisible.6
Mode of integration: Like free indirect speech, it must rely on the statement of the narrator for whom it serves as a support and which gives it relief. However, between one and the other, there are no linguistic transition markers, but only phonatory or spoken ones.
Means of integration: The verb tenses and grammatical anaphoras of free direct speech are of the same type as those of the character’s speech. Grammatical anaphoras are those of the first and second person singular and plural.
Narrativized E-Discourse. The narrativized discourse is that of the narrator. In fact, the narrator takes over his character’s speech to make it his own. The character finds himself completely excluded from the narrative universe in which, normally, he has the right to exist and therefore to contribute to the construction of the narrative.
Mode of integration: the integration of the character’s speech into the narrator’s speech is total.
Means of integration: as the integration is total, there would be no clue that could recall the presence of the character.
-Direct speech: “Come,” he asked her. (With integration mode as is.)
-Indirect speech: He asked him to come. (With a partial integration mode.)
-Narrativized speech: He called her. (With full integration mode.)
As we have seen, the French language has five types of speech. But the least used are free indirect and direct speech. They constitute deviations from the other types which are the direct, the indirect and the narrativized.
1 and 2: for communication purposes, I use the word utterance of the narrator instead of the word speech
3- modified text (see 4)
4-Authentic text: The Wonder Box, page 44. School bookstore edition. Casablanca
5- ditto. page 160 / authentic text
6- ditto. Page 164: Passage between [ ] : free direct speech