+0
I saw this article from the web and I think it is worth to post part of the article in this forum.
Following is the article

<<
...AND REPORTED SPEECH

Dear English Doctor,
Please explain about word changes in reported speech.

If you say to me "My sister is going to Chiang Mai", I can report that in two ways. I can use your words in a direct quotation as follows:

He said, "My sister is going to Chiang Mai."
In this case, the exact words that you said are repeated and surrounded by quotation marks in order to indicate that they are, indeed, your words.

I can also report your speech in a more general way in an indirect quotation like this:

"He told me his sister was going to Chiang Mai."
In this case, the essence of the meaning of what you said has been distilled and incorporated into my report to a third party. No quotation marks are necessary as the words are not an exact replication of your statement.

More examples:

Direct quotations

1. "Can you see," he asked me, "whether the train has arrived?"
2. I swear I heard her say, "My dog ate my daughter."
3. "Sing me my favorite song," were the last words she ever spoke.

Indirect quotations:

1. He asked me to see whether the train had arrived.
2. I swear I heard her say that her dog had eaten her daughter.
3. She asked me to sing her favourite song, and those were the last words she ever spoke.
>>

As the article has made it clear, reported can be used in Direct or Indirect quotations. My question is, how the reported speech goes when it comes to the grey area of Indirect Quotation like the following situation.

Statement 1) The lecturer says that we have to limit our words into 1200 words in our essay in class today.
Statement 2) The Lecturer said that we had to limit our words into 1200 words in our essay in class today.

I often hear English speakers say in present tense like statement 1 when they try to tell other people what they heard from other people. However, sometimes the English speaker just use the past tense like statement 2 to convey what they heard. I just wonder how come sometimes they can simply switch in between the sentences like statement 1 and 2 shown above whenever they like. Is there a concept in reported speech that governs this kind of situation?

I visited some websites for answer and they said we could use the present tense when the event was just said or was still currently related. I tried to put this concept in use but simply couldn't make myself clear because even the event is still currently related, when the statement comes out from other people's mouth, it is always in the past according to reported speech rules. If what the websites tell me is true, how about the following situation?

(Fact: we are still in progress of writting the essays as the following statements are made.)
Statement 3) The lecturer says that we have to limit our words into 1200 words in our essay in class yesterday(or last week).
Statement 4) The lecturer said that we had to limit our words into 1200 words in our essay in class yesterday(or last week).
Most often hear:
Statement 5) The lecturer says we have to limit our words into 1200 word in our essay. (Note: Without the date. What the lecturer told them was in week ago and that statement still holds true. It this statement is correct, how come statement 4 and 5 cannot be used?)

In short, I think my question is, why English speakers can switch between the usage of 'say' and 'said' whenever they want and what is the concept that lies behind their minds that makes them think what they say is correct? How they think when they change in between the two words, 'say' and 'said'?

Following is just another example I hope you could help me with.
Statement 6) I saw(or visited) a website yesterday(or last week) and it says that one third of people who live in this country don't know anything about the stock market.

I don't know if I should use the phrase "and it says" after the previou phrase "I visited a website last week". What I saw from the website was in the past but the event I stated out is still holds true or is still related to current situation. I just don't know if the statement 5 show above could be used.

I hope somebody could help me out with the above question and if you think what I ask is not clear enough, please inform me and I will post another message to clear myself up.
1 2 3
Comments  (Page 2) 
The above seems sensible to me. The nuances of choosing a past form over a present, in any situation, when the choice is there, would tend to be formality, politness and a relative lack of concern. Agree?

JT: Thank you, Woodcutter. If there are portions that don't seem sensible to you, please feel free to assail away.Emotion: wink

I agree that those are some important considerations. Newspapers and other media tend to choose the more formal. Meaning is, I suggest, the overriding concern.

I don't follow you when you say, "lack of concern".
I am generally with you when you rail against the machine JTT, though I think you are a little dismissive of the divide between standard written English and the spoken stuff, which was not created by pedantic ESL teachers. When people try to justify the non-validity of spoken forms by reference to arcane rules, then I agree, that needs sorting out.

As to the "lack of concern" ...For example:

He says he's the winner/He said he was the winner.

If I was really concerned, I would tend towards the former.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
As to the "lack of concern" ...For example:

He says he's the winner/He said he was the winner.

If I was really concerned, I would tend towards the former.

JT: Now I get your drift, WC.

WC: I am generally with you when you rail against the machine JTT, though I think you are a little dismissive of the divide between standard written English and the spoken stuff, which was not created by pedantic ESL teachers. When people try to justify the non-validity of spoken forms by reference to arcane rules, then I agree, that needs sorting out.

JT: Again, I'm not certain I follow you exactly, Woodcutter, as to how you view I am dismissive about this divide. Could you explain in greater depth?

Without waiting for your reply, I will admit to being more than a bit dismissive of the notion that there is no divide between SFE/SWE and spoken English and that one can be judged by how the other operates.

I'm actually astounded, flabbergasted even, that so many ESL teachers haven't grapsped that fact. The CGEL is equally dismissive of the notion I described above, as is Michael Swan, as is the Grammar Book, as was Dwight Bolinger, as is Joseph Emonds, as is Steven Pinker and hundreds of other language professionals. Sometimes, though not always, their phraseology is slightly different but that's natural given that they are published items.

Check the index of the CGEL under "prescriptions" for a long list of dismissives of the prescriptive tradition. But what's really important in all this is that these dismissals come with proof. I'm sad to report that proof is not very abundant on the prescriptive side.

It has been suggested to me that it's important to also have the prescriptive viewpoint put forward. I couldn't agree more. Let it flow. It's tough to shoot down a plane that sits in the hangar.Emotion: wink
Thank you JTT, for your replya and your special advice on the English system we have. I am not a native speaker so I have been trying quite hard just to learn how English speaker think when they try to communicate with a Laguage full with rules. Sometimes I just don't get it that in such a short time they could produces so many different pronunciation and rules that occur in on long sentence. I just dont how I should follow them but to try to learn English from the mistake by talking as much as I can with the native speaker.

I think one of the reason I can speak English as fluent as the native speaker is because I have to think twice for the rules of grammar before I can speak out an English statement in a conversation.

I started reading the threads you wrote in the forum after getting the "different" answers you provided. I think you got a point that there are many special cases in English where a person can only learn the essense of English in daily conversation, not from book.

I don't know if you would do this, but could you list out the rules that you would use when you speak with other people about things you saw or heard in the past. Following is my own rules that I got from all the questions I have asked. I hope you could correct them for me.

Rule 1: Use the present tense if what you heard is still related to current situation or yet to come.
Ex: I heard from Jams last week that you are going to join the street race tomorrow.
Ex: I promised him I would finish the job before I go home. (Because of different task in time)
Ex: At first we were hesitate to ask you but finally we decided to tell you that we are against the act too.

Rule 2: Speakers have the choice to choose which tense they want to use (present tense or past tense) if what they heard still relate to current situation.
Ex: I saw from the TV commercial yesterday where it said your company is offering a special deal for all the retailers regardless of how small the retailers are.

Rule 3: If what you learned or found in the past still holds true for you, especially the thing you learned is being put in a clause, you can use the present tense to describe your dicovery.
Ex: Today at school, teacher taught us how to give a proper shut down to our computers if the computers hang suddenly.
Ex: Once I was in Hong Kong with this new friend of mine. While we were in the bar, he told me that if you meet the girl you like, you better introduce yourself to her. He said that if you ask, you have fifty-fifty chance, but if you don't, you don't have a chance.
Ex: My grandpa used to tell me that a good name is what a man can leave behind for over a hundred year. (!!!Do I have to strictly put the sentence in past tense if I am doubtful what my grandpa told me was true? That's why I always wander on which tense I should use in this dilemma of mine.)

Rule 4: There are special cases where you have to ignore the grammar rules from time to time.
Ex:
Marcus: Did you know that people here are suffering from a special disease called the skin painter?
Darrel: I did know that people here are(were also can be used) suffering from the disease. That is why I am here.
Ex: I was wondering if you want to go to theather with me tonight.
Ex: I was just thinking why this lamp post is being put here instead of the darker spot over there. (I am not sure if 'is' could be used instead of 'was'. Could you correct this for me?)

Rules 5: You can use present tense or past tense when you describe scene or story of a movie. This rules also stands for book and websites content.
Ex: I saw the movie last night. It was a movie about how a orphan becomes a greatman through years of struggle.
Ex: I still remember I screamed out as loud as I could when I saw the ghost suddenly turn it head towards the serial killer after the killer has just murdered a new victim. It was horrible.
Ex: I visited a website last week where it says there are currently 5 million people out of job. I think I might be as well as one of them. (!!!I am not sure if I can use present tense here because web contents tend to be changed from time to time. Should I use present tense?)

I think above are the 5 rules of mine that I would use from now on when I talk to other people. If anyone has anything to add to my rules, please write them down in this forum. I am just wondering if JTT has his own rules towards that English grammar. I really hope I could see a totally different view point from JTT.
Hello Munchun2004

I like your rules. Some comments:

Rule 3:....
Ex: My grandpa used to tell me that a good name is what a man can leave behind for over a hundred year. (!!!Do I have to strictly put the sentence in past tense if I am doubtful what my grandpa told me was true? That's why I always wander on which tense I should use in this dilemma of mine.) I would say you could use the same form if you were doubtful.

Rule 4:
Ex: I was wondering if you want to go to theather with me tonight. In BrE, the 'I was wondering' structure is usually followed by a past tense ('...if you wanted...') or a 'would' clause ('...if you would like...'). This may not hold true in AmE.

Ex: I was just thinking why this lamp post is being put here instead of the darker spot over there. You might say to the lamp-post-installer: 'I was just wondering why this lamp post was being put here, instead of in the darker spot over there'. That would be the 'polite' enquiry. Or: 'I was just thinking – why is this lamp post being put here, instead of over there, in the dark spot?' (You might say this to a friend who happened to pass.)

Ex: I still remember I screamed out as loud as I could when I saw the ghost suddenly turn it head towards the serial killer after the killer has just murdered a new victim. It was horrible. Here you would usually say 'had murdered'.

Ex: I visited a website last week where it says there are currently 5 million people out of job. I think I might be as well as one of them. (!!!I am not sure if I can use present tense here because web contents tend to be changed from time to time. Should I use present tense?)
To my ears, the present tense sounds slightly odd with 'currently', which isn't the 'currently' of the speaker.


On some of the previous comments:

Luigi says: 1. 'I met your lecturer yesterday and while we were having dinner together, he told me that one of you was taking on the aerospace project.'

Guido says: 2. 'I met your lecturer yesterday and while we were having dinner together, he TELLS me that one of you IS taking on the aerospace project.'

If I'm interviewing ESLs Luigi and Guido for a job, and they're equal in all respects, except that Luigi says #1, and Guido says #2, I'm going to give the job to Luigi.

I may not know why I'm giving the job to Luigi, from the point of view of grammar. But I'll probably think, vaguely, Guido's English isn't so good. (I certainly won't think, Guido has been notating the speech patterns of native New Yorkers and has picked up an interesting mixed tense variant.)

Irregular speech patterns are fine, if you're a native. But unfortunately, when natives hear them from non-native speakers, they mistake them for mistakes.



'Hey, your mom tells me that you got yourself a new beau, it’s about
time that you thought about getting hitched.'


In BrE, oddly, it would be more usual to say 'you've got'; which retains the connection with the present.

MrP
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Thank you MrPedantic for your reply. I have just added your sentence

'Hey, your mom tells me that you got yourself a new beau, it’s about
time that you thought about getting hitched.'

into Rule 4 of mine. Thank you for your advice.
It's a quaint phrase.

An adverb of time prompts the simple past even in BrE:

'Your mother tells me you bought a new car last week.'

MrP
Munchun: I am just wondering if JTT has his own rules towards that English grammar. I really hope I could see a totally different view point from JTT.

JT: No, I don't have my own personal set of English grammar rules, Munchun. What I describe is how English actually works. Your confusion comes from prescriptive conventions that were either wrong or not expansive enough.

-----------------------
The Grammar Book: An ESL/EFL Teacher's Course

Exceptions to Backshifting

What makes the backshifting rule even more difficult is that there are exceptions in use -- a fact to which most descriptive and ESL/EFL grammar books are sensitive, and one which calls the "rule" into question.
--------------------------

Rule 4:
Ex: I was wondering if you want to go to theather with me tonight.

MrP: In BrE, the 'I was wondering' structure is usually followed by a past tense ('...if you wanted...') or a 'would' clause ('...if you would like...'). This may not hold true in AmE.

JT: Again, what is the 'usual' does not preclude the exceptional. Using a past tense FORM with the 'I was wondering' structure reflects a greater degree of politeness/deference. It's a touchy-feely thing.

In 'I was wondering', the does not reflect a past tense/time. In most/many?? situations, there actually was no wondering. It's simply an expression used for social distancing, past tense forms soften our speech.

Do you want sometrhing to eat? versus Did you want sometrhing to eat?

Using a present tense FORM reflects more casual, friendly, "we're on a equal basis footing" speech.

-----------------------------------------

'Hey, your mom tells me that you got yourself a new beau, it’s about
time that you thought about getting hitched.'

Mr P: In BrE, oddly, it would be more usual to say 'you've got'; which retains the connection with the present.

JT: AmE & CdnE both have a tendency, especially in casual speech, to sometimes use a much reduced, sometimes a completely unvoiced <'ve> in situations like this. A <'ve> could have been there in this example.

Further, AmE & CdnE make use of both and as past participle forms.

{If you're interested, see: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jlawler/aue/gotten.html

Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Here, in today's Dilbert, we get a perfect example of natural office English. {I can't provide a link to this particular cartoon at the Dilbert site until tomorrow because it's a cartoon that is current in the newspapers}

----------------------
Wally, , walks up to Alice and says;

Alice, I HEAR that your project IS stressful.
------------------

I won't give away the punch line, you can see it tomorrow at the following site. It'll be the 1/24 cartoon if you view this post late and have to check the archives.

http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/dilbert /

Suffice it to say that traditional/prescriptive conventions on how reported speech works have been pretty dismal.

------------------------------

The cartoon for yesterday, 1/23, the one currently up on the Dilbert site, is also highly apropos, though not necessarily for this thread.

/
Show more