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The protagonist projection hypothesis

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image of International Review of Pragmatics

The protagonist projection hypothesis was formulated by Holton (1997) in order to account for cases where the speaker seems to utter contradictory statements. Holton argues that in these cases the speaker projects herself into the mind of someone else. Three different sentence-types have been classified as examples of protagonist projection: (i) sentences with factive verbs (tell+wh, know), (ii) sentences that realize free indirect discourse, and (iii) sentences that do not realize free indirect discourse, but are still assumed to be instances of speaking from someone else’s perspective. Regarding the sentences in (i), I argue, following Tsohatzidis (1993, 1997, 2012), that neither tell+wh nor know must be considered as factive predicates. As for the sentences of type (ii), I conclude that free indirect discourse is an instance of protagonist projection. Finally, the sentences of type (iii) are accounted for as cases of utterances whose syntax is partially unpronounced.

Affiliations: 1: Lund University, Sweden


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