Cross-linguistic influence (CLI) is investigated by various research traditions that examine language contact varieties. This article presents an analysis of syntactic and pragmatic effects of CLI in three corpora of published, written varieties of English influenced by contact with Afrikaans: native White South African English, English second-language writing by Afrikaans speakers, and texts translated from Afrikaans into English. These varieties differ in the strength of bilingual activation as well as in different sociocognitive conditions of production. Three related reported-speech constructions that exhibit syntactic and pragmatic similarities and differences are analysed, to determine how bilingual activation and sociocognitive factors interact with CLI. The findings indicate that overt syntactic transfer is almost completely absent in the language of highly proficient bilinguals, but covert syntactic transfer takes place where an Afrikaans construction corresponds to only one of two variants available to native varieties of English. Extensive evidence of covert pragmatic transfer is found across various registers. The cognitive strain associated with high levels of bilingual activation overrides syntactic and pragmatic CLI for one construction investigated, in favour of a consistent preference for the explicit and more formal variant. This effect is further enhanced by the selection of the more formal variant during the process of post-production editing.