Well-prefaced constructed dialogue as a marker of stance in online abortion discourse
Coastal Carolina University
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,
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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