In this contribution we will address the main puzzling empirical issues that have been formulated around Free Indirect Discourse (FID): the constraints on the use of first person pronouns and of proper names (as well as of definite descriptions), the reasons why different grammatical features (person, gender, number) give rise to presuppositions that must be resolved at different levels of interpretation in FID, the factors that account for the observation that person and tense behave similarly in FID. At the same time, we will also discuss the main controversies to which the ongoing debate on FID has given rise in the literature, showing that Schlenker (Mind Lang 19(3):279-304, 2004)'s distinction between a Context of Thought (CT) and a Context of Utterance (CU) still provides a fundamentally valid insight into the nature of FID, in spite of many qualifications that are necessary and some well-motivated criticism. However, our main task here is more ambitious than simply taking a stand on the many unsettled controversies surrounding FID. In fact, we claim that Schlenker's split between CU and CT can be derived in a principled way from the inner nature of FID as a linguistic process of 'phenomenal identification', whereby a Higher Experiencer attempts at reproducing (at a distinct time) the phenomenal experience proper to a Lower Experiencer. This distinction between qualitatively identified but numerically distinct experiences provides the conceptual basis for the derivation of virtually all remarkable properties of FID (including its somehow intermediate status between Direct and Indirect Discourse), while connecting, at the same time, with some intriguing semantic properties of first-person pronouns, such as the different varieties of de se readings.
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