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Is there a term for the sort of words that sometimes precede dialogue or quotations, like say, ask, write, answer, cry, and reply?

  • I think it's usually called a "tag", but someone might correct me. I'm pretty sure there is a word for it, at any rate. – Terpsichore Apr 4 '14 at 14:02
  • Are you speaking of verbs, or are you talking about, say, interjections? If the latter, I have to say that say is the only interjection in the list; all the rest are verbs of speech with special grammar. – John Lawler Apr 4 '14 at 17:41
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I think they are called "dialogue tags." Have a look here: https://www.visualthesaurus.com/wordlists/9457

  • Perfect. That's what I'm looking for. – user53907 Apr 4 '14 at 14:27
  • Well that is my first answer on this site. Thank you. :) – IndianConstitution Apr 6 '14 at 16:08
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In Latin grammars the term verba dicendi (verbs of saying) is used in the meaning of all verbs that can be used before direct or indirect speech.

  • And Cobuild, I think it is, distinguishes quote verbs or quotative verbs from reporting verbs. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 4 '14 at 19:05
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I'm having trouble finding any definitive sources that back me up here, and I am aware that Wikipedia is not an academically-acceptable source, but its page on Dialogue in Writing seems to indicate they are called identifiers (because they identify the person who is currently speaking in a dialogue).

TV Tropes identifies the use of words other than 'said' as a 'Said-Bookism', but that's more referring to the concept of using those words than a name for the words themselves. I'm afraid that's all the information I have at present.

  • "Said-bookism" is a great term for the bad-writing examples like shriek, exclaim, and lament--thanks for a new term! But the word I'm looking for would be more general and descriptive, less judgmental. – user53907 Apr 4 '14 at 14:24
  • I'm glad I was able to help in that regard - you're welcome. – NinjaDuckie Apr 4 '14 at 14:26

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