Verbs in speech framing expressions: Comparing English and Spanish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this large-scale corpus study, we explore how direct speech is portrayed in English and Spanish Speech Framing Expressions (SFEs).While the whole SFE is taken into account in the semantic analysis, our specific focus is the finite verb of the SFE. The study has two aims. Firstly, we survey the use of verbs in SFEs and offer a comprehensive inventory of those verbs in English and Spanish as representatives of Germanic and Romance languages respectively in order to determine what verb meanings are used to cue direct speech, what lexical resources contribute these meanings, and how rich and varied these vocabularies are in the two languages. Secondly, this groundwork and the comparisons across the languages allow for making a theoretical contribution to the debate about general typological differences in the semantics and lexicalization patterns of verbs in Germanic and Romance languages to the area of verbs for speech and to meaning modelling in general. Five main semantic categories of verbs were identified in the analysis: SPEECH, ACTIVITY, PERCEPTION, COGNITION and EMOTION. We show that Spanish features a much more varied repertoire than English and makes more use of verbs related to the domains of thinking and reasoning, while the physical domain is the preferred one in the English data set. It emerges that even though the same types of lexical resources are available in both languages, their various ways of describing direct speech differ to a large extent. Semantically speaking, Spanish verbs are richer and more elaborate and, contrary to the received view in motion research, Spanish manner meanings play an important role in the lexicalization of its verbs.


External organisations
  • University of Castilla La Mancha
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Specific Languages


  • quotatives, verbs of communication, variability, semantic typology, lexicalization, verbs of saying, verba dicendi
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-84
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Linguistics
Issue number1
Early online date2017 Apr 6
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch

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