“Country Speech”: Regional and Temporal Linguistic Layering in Alice Munro’s Fiction
Keywords:Alice Munro, Canadian Literature, short fiction, stylistics
Foregrounded reports of remembered speech habits typify Alice Munro’s short fiction. In one story, the author refers to this, almost casually, as “country speech.” I will examine instances of generalized speech tags (such as “As they used to say”) to explore their relation to the creation of spatial and temporal depth in the fictional landscape. Distinctions are established between types of these foregrounded speech tags, and the category of “country speech” is extended to include a related concept of “country manners.” These combine to help create the subtly layered distinctions between place (city, country, small town) and time (decades and generations) that add texture to Munro’s narratives.
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