Well-prefaced constructed dialogue as a marker of stance in online abortion discourse

Kristen Fleckenstein


This paper offers an analysis of well-prefaced constructed dialogue as a stance-taking resource in written discourse on abortion. Drawing from four corpora collected from editorials, blogs, Twitter, and Reddit, I demonstrate that writers use the discourse marker well to indicate a stance of disalignment and convey negative attitudinal information when there is tension between the writer’s beliefs and those expressed in the constructed dialogue; the discourse marker allows the writer to position and align themself to construct a specific identity that reinforces a positive-self, negative-other evaluation.

Publication history
Table of contents

Constructed dialogue is a rich interactional resource that allows speakers to report on what others have said as well as to indicate their personal positioning relative to the thoughts and words of the individual they are quoting. The term constructed dialogue refers broadly to the reporting of real, internal, or imagined speech or thought (Tannen 1989), and can be used to represent dialogue that was never actually stated as well as to express generalizations. As such, it operates on somewhat of a continuum, with verbatim quotation, which requires that the words in the constructed dialogue were actually spoken and that the surface syntactic structure of the original quote be preserved (Clark and Gerrig 1990), on one end, and cases where a speaker reports on dialogue that was never actually spoken (Tannen 1989) on the other end. The range of utterances that can be considered constructed dialogue are shown in Examples (1) and (2). The example in (1) illustrates an instance of verbatim reproduction, with the original utterance shown in (1a). Examples (1b), (1c), and (1d) illustrate the multiple ways that the same utterance could be reported using verbatim direct quotes.

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