Language choice and direct speech presentation in Kinyarwanda news articles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims/objectives/purpose/research questions: This paper investigates the issue of language choice in direct speech presentation (DS) in Kinyarwanda news articles. Two specific research questions are addressed: 1. What is the default medium of DS in these texts and how can it be accounted? 2. Can the default medium be deviated from and what functions does deviance serve?

Design/methodology/approach: An inductive discourse analytic methodology.

Data and Analysis: Data consist of instances of DS extracted from Kinyarwanda news texts published in two Rwandan news media blogs, namely Igihe and Umuseke.

Findings/conclusions: Analysis of the data reveals that, in DS, the medium of the original discourse is incidental and that the default medium of DS is Kinyarwanda. In turn, this is interpreted as conforming to the general discourse organisation principle of preference for same medium discourse. Analysis also revealed that this medium can be deviated from either because of issues in the medium itself or in order to serve specific discourse-related functions. Finally, analysis revealed that, in each case, two options are available, namely to merely reproduce verbatim items from original speech and to enter them in translinguistic apposition structures. In the latter possibility, the direction of switch is found to be significant as, in the case of issues in the medium, switching typically takes the direction Kinyarwanda–non-Kinyarwanda, while, in the case of discourse-related functions, the typical direction of switching is reversed.

Originality/significance/implications: Language choice in news texts, and in DS environments in particular, remains under-investigated. Therefore, this paper serves as a call for further investigations of this aspect of language use. Also, the study has practical implications for the training of media professionals in the context it has investigated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-941
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number5
Early online date20 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Kinyarwanda
  • speech presentation
  • direct speech presentation
  • code-switching
  • medium
  • embedded medium quotation
  • Kinyarwanda annotation
  • back-translation
  • language choice
  • news article


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