The use and distribution of reporting verbs in Russian chronicles of the XI–XVI centuries

2013. № 1 (25), 194-222

Ekaterina A. Vlasova, Lomonosov Moscow State University


In this article, I trace the diachronic trends in the use of reporting verbs in Russian chronicles of the XI–XVI centuries. The core of my study is the distribution of the basic reporting verbs ‘to say’ versus ‘to tell’. In the early texts, verbs of saying рещиглаголати and мълвити occur only in reporting direct speech. So called tell-verbs such as бысть вѣсть and съказати are mainly used to introduce indirect reports. In later chronicles the syntactic distribution of ancient reporting verbs begins to bleach out. In the Nikon Chronicle of the XV–XVI centuries the contemporary verbs говорити ‘to say, to speak’ and сказати ‘to tell’ appear to have become the most frequent introductory verbs. There is a tendency for сказати to be used for indirect speech, while говорити introduces both direct and indirect reports. Illocutionary verbs are noted rarely; they can be used to report either direct or indirect speech.