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Summary:

This paper examines verbs of speech used for introducing direct speech in Late Latin and changes which occurred from Classical to Late Latin. It focuses on four verbal forms which were previously identified as the most frequent in selected Late Latin texts, namely inquit, ait, dicens, and dixit. Their properties and patterns of use are examined and their development into quotative markers are considered. It is shown that while in Classical Latin inquit prevails, in Late Latin the range of verbal forms is wider and includes verbal forms that in Classical texts almost never appeared or had different functions than introducing direct speech. It is argued that despite some signs of grammaticalization, none of the examined forms has become a fully developed quotative marker. Thus, concerning the means for introducing direct speech, variability and heterogeneity are the basic characteristics of Late Latin texts.

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