Reče: The emergence of a quotative verb in Macedonian

Sep 3, 2021 — Sep 5, 2021
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Champaign, IL [🌐online],

In this paper we argue that the verb reče ‘say.PFV.PRES.3SG’ in Macedonian (South Slavic) is grammaticalizing into a quotative marker, i.e., a particle that signals reported speech. This quotative shows up in narratives in informal settings. Data for this paper is mainly based on recordings of three folktales with a native speaker originally from Sekirci, a village near Prilep, but currently living in Skopje. Additional data is taken from the collection of the Research Center for Areal Linguistics of the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences (Vidoeski, 2000)1. All used data are from dialects that are classified by Friedman (2001)2 as Western dialects. The arguments presented for the grammaticalization of reče into a quotative are the following:

i) Speech verbs are common source of quotative markers. Examples include Hausa cē ‘say’, verb > cēwā 3 and Russian molvil ‘he spoke, said’, or molvit ‘he speaks, says’ > colloquial Russian mol quotative signalling direct speech (Vykypěl, 2010, 140) 4.

ii) When used as a quotative, reče does not inflect for the number and person of the subject, thus the form is becoming invariant. An example of this is given in (1). While the preceding verb otišle ‘went’ is in the third plural aorist participle form, reče does not become rekle, which would be the corresponding form.

iii) reče occurs together with other speech verbs, such as vika ‘say.IPFV.PRES.3SG’ in (2). When two different speech verbs occur in one discourse reporting event, it is often the case the one functions as a quotative (Lord, 1990, 332) 3.

iv) reče most often occurs within the reported discourse, after the first phonological word, behaving like a second position clitic. The total amount of occurrences of reče in second position as opposed to the speech verb vika ‘say.IPFV.PRES.3SG’ is shown in Figure 1. This is reminiscent of the quotative verb tet in Chuvash, shown in (4), which also most often occurs in second position (Nikitina et al., 2021) 5.

v) When it is used as a quotative, the /r/ in reče can be dropped, reducing it to just eče. A spectogram in which this can be seen is presented in Figure 2, which shows an utterance in which there are two instances of reče, the first one is fully pronounced, whereas the second one is truncated to just če.

Since reče is not fully grammaticalized, it is used both as a real speech verb, and as a quotative verb. An example of the use of reče as a verb is shown in (3). Unlike the quotative uses shown in (1) and (2), in (3) the verb is i) inflected for the second person, ii) occurs only once in the discourse reporting event and iii) occurs before the actual discourse report, rather than within it.



They went to him, “Now,” he said, “He’s done!”



‘and he told his wife: “Now, wait,” he said “I will show them!”’



‘You will say: “Role is out plowing”.’



‘You are, he says, Ivan’s father and mother?’ 5

Figure 1

fig02.png Figure 2


  1. Vidoeski, B. (2000). Audio materials of the Macedonian language. Online collection of the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences, last accessed 08 April 2021. ↩︎

  2. Friedman, V. (2001). Macedonian. Slavic and Eurasian Language Resource Center. ↩︎

  3. Lord, C. D. (1990). Syntactic reanalysis in the historical development of serial verb constructions in languages of West Africa. PhD thesis, Los Angeles: University of California. ↩︎

  4. Vykypěl, B. (2010). Slavonic-Baltic addenda to the world lexicon of grammaticalization. Journal of Linguistics/ Jazykovednỳ casopis, 61(2):131–144. ↩︎

  5. Nikitina, T., Aplonova, E., and Contreras Roa, L. (2021). The use of interjections as a discourse phenomenon: A contrastive study of Chuvash (Turkic) and Wan (Mande). ↩︎

Leonardo Contreras Roa
Leonardo Contreras Roa
Profesor de fonética y fonología inglesa

Fonetista y profesor de inglés, doctor en lingüística