Other Voices: Functions of Reported Language in Students' Narratives of Learning
This paper will focus on findings from a study of the functions of reported speech in students' oral interview narratives and written materials, collected at the second and fourth years of college. Using a blend of paper presentation and workshop format, this session will address findings and examine sample excerpts of reported speech and citations to discuss the often burred distinctions between intertextual and interpersonal features of language and of learning. At the heart of this study is the view that our language and our concept of self are constituted through and by heteroglossia, through interactions with the multiple voices of others, as suggested by Bakhtin/Volosinov, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. In academic contexts, however, the "others" are as likely to be texts and ideas as personal. Yet neither traditional views of literacy and learning, which tend to emphasize the reporting of information, nor current theories, which construe learning and meaning as socially constructed and interactive have adequately addressed the presence of "others" that students explicitly cite. Linguistically, we can signal a relationship to these "others," the voices of other people as well as the voices of texts with which we interact, through direct/indirect speech forms and citations, but traditional linguistic and educational approaches have generally treated such forms as relatively unproblematic grammatical categories. Findings from my study of direct reports show that students' use of reported language increased significantly in frequency over time, suggesting a relationship between the linguistic realizations of reported language and students' participation in a discourse community, and that reported language displays multiple linguistic functions. By applying Halliday's lexicogrammatical approach to the functions of reported speech, my paper begins to unravel the multiple functions of direct-report structures as a way of understanding the complex, embedded layers involved in students' constructions of meaning.