• Conversational narratives;
  • direct speech;
  • intensity;
  • contextualization cues;
  • construction of identities

The present paper examines the discourse functions of intensity in the context of narrative direct speech quotations. We argue that differentiation in intensity functions as a contextualization cue signalling involvement as well as power negotiation. Intensity, therefore, seems to be an ambivalent signal acquiring its meaning in interaction with other contextual parameters. More specifically, we argue that a louder voice is preferred in in-group talk representations as a contextualization cue of a high involvement style in conversations between intimate young peers. Lower intensity, on the other hand, is used by young female narrators in the representation of talk with authority-out-group figures, as a means of reducing the authority of the adult voices represented in their narratives. The qualitative analysis of our data is further supported by quantitative analysis. We conclude that intensity differentiation in the direct speech quotations of young female narrators functions as a contextualization cue signalling, on the one hand, their independence from adult authority and, on the other, their in-group bonds.