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Indirect statements …again. My English incompetence revealed

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Indirect statements …again. My English incompetence revealed

Postby 1%homeless » Fri Jun 11, 2004 7:42 am

One thing that still aggravates me is indirect statements. This was my post on the topic:

http://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-foru ... php?t=1698

I started to realize what I was confused about wasn’t Latin, but English. I did research on reported speech and English tenses. I was using the rules Wheelock described on page 165 for English when it was clearly explaining tense semantics for Latin. :oops: So now the only way I can properly translate Latin is if I understand English!

I found this statement for English tenses: “If the REPORTING VERB is in the SIMPLE PRESENT, PRESENT PERFECT or FUTURE tense, the verb in the original quotation does not change.”

http://langues.cmaisonneuve.qc.ca/sbell ... Speech.htm

Even after all this researching, I still don’t know all the tenses for the reporting verb that changes the tense of the verb in the original quotations... Does anyone know of a good English grammar book that deals with all this? I mean what about future perfect and imperfect for reporting verbs? Do they change the tense in the original quotations? I don't even want to think about shifting the various rare tenses in the original statements either... There are many various combinations possible... I think I should check out 501 English verbs. :oops:

Oh yeah, I’ve already looked at “Cambridge Grammar of the English Language”… the only useful thing I found pertaining to my inquiry is “backshifting” tenses.

I’ve just recently finished Wheelock, but I can’t celebrate until I’ve mastered this. :P
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Postby blue » Fri Jun 11, 2004 9:48 am

english grammar for students of latin would probably be pretty good for you
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Postby 1%homeless » Fri Jun 11, 2004 10:04 am

blue wrote:english grammar for students of latin would probably be pretty good for you


hehe. Already read that one. :)
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Postby bingley » Fri Jun 11, 2004 10:38 am

I have a shock for you. There are NO special rules for tenses in indirect speech in English. The normal rules for choosing tenses apply. Look at these remarks by Harry:

"Tom can't come to the phone."

"Tom is cooking dinner."

"Tom bought the groceries."


Now look at these sentences:

When Harry answered the phone, Tom couldn't come to the phone.

When Harry answered the phone, Tom was cooking dinner.

When Harry answered the phone, Tom had bought the groceries.

Compare the reported speech:

Harry said that Tom couldn't come to the phone.

Harry said that Tom was cooking dinner.

Harry said that Tom had bought the groceries.

If "say" is in the present tense (Harry says ...), then the original sentences must still be true, so there is no need to change their tenses.

Some misguided souls try to explain English grammar in terms suitable to Latin. It usually just makes life more complicated than it need be.
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Postby 1%homeless » Fri Jun 11, 2004 11:13 pm

Umm... I don't think it is that simple. Yes, some English grammarians sometimes try to contort English grammar to be more Latin-like, but regardless of the historical aspect of reported speech, you have to deal with time relativity in Modern English.

I mean it is possible for you to have double future perfects...

Harry will have said, "Tom will have cooked dinner."

Reported speech: Harry, will have said that Tom will have cooked dinner...?

Or imperfect with future perfect...

Harry was saying, "Tom will have cooked dinner."

Reported speech: Harry was saying that Tom will have been cooking dinner...?

Of course English has more tenses than Latin and there are a lot more combinations possible than Latin. Well, when I'm using my Sprachgefuhl for English, I still sometimes feel like I'm guessing. I'm sure non-native speakers of English understand this better than I do because they had to actually be conscious about this. Also time relativity isn't that absolute. Sometimes, it's actually ok to not shift tenses, although it is somewhat ungrammatical. Follow the link about the Terminator's "broken English."

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/language ... 00106.html

However I think I found out what the rule is. Any main verb in the past tense like perfect, imperfect, pluperfect, etc., affects the verb in the original statement. I think that is why I can't find anything about "forward"shifting in the Cambridge grammar book. The “Latin for Dummies” book helped me to come up with the rule. Heh-heh. :-)

So... you see, it is very complicated. :wink:
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Postby Episcopus » Sat Jun 12, 2004 10:21 am

Why do you dwell on these things, English is deformed. How about you move on to indirect speech with conditions:

"They said that they would have accomplished it within a shorter space of time if the truck had not crushed two of their men"

Futurum fuisse breviore ut conficerent tempore si currus suorum duo non oppressisset

:lol: Sorry I just particularly like those. They are crazy. But make sort of sense.
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Postby ingrid70 » Sat Jun 12, 2004 11:10 am

I've checked "A Student's Grammar of the English Language" by Greenbaum and Quirk, but they don't mention future tenses in reported speech.

Here's what they say:

Backshifting occurs if the time of reporting is expressed as later than the time of the utterance.

Then they have this list:
present -> past
past -> past or past perfect
present perfect and past perfect -> past perfect.

Backshifting is optional when the time-reference of the original utterance is valid at the time of the reporting, e.g. He told them that the earth moves around the sun.

So I guess with future tenses, it depends on whether the time referred to in the original utterance is still in the future.

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Postby 1%homeless » Mon Jun 14, 2004 10:29 pm

Thanks ingrid, I've been meaning to read what Quirk's comprehensive grammar says, but haven't gotten to it yet.
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Postby bingley » Tue Jun 15, 2004 9:53 am

I mean it is possible for you to have double future perfects...

Harry will have said, "Tom will have cooked dinner."


It's theoretically possible, but I doubt that anyone in the real world rather than in a grammarian's artificial illustration has ever uttered such a sentence. However, they are presumably both future perfects as seen from now so you'd probably end up with something like this:

Before long Harry will have said that Tom will have probably eaten all the chocolates before Katherine gets here.

Or imperfect with future perfect...

Harry was saying, "Tom will have cooked dinner."


EITHER Harry was saying that Tom would have cooked dinner (before the guests arrived).
OR Harry was saying that Tom will have cooked dinner (before the guests arrive).

depending on whether the time of cooking was in the future when Harry said it but no longer is or whether it is still future perfect from our perspective now.
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Postby Democritus » Tue Jun 15, 2004 5:34 pm

bingley wrote:It's theoretically possible, but I doubt that anyone in the real world rather than in a grammarian's artificial illustration has ever uttered such a sentence. ...

Before long Harry will have said that Tom will have probably eaten all the chocolates before Katherine gets here.


Reminds me of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe:

Douglas Adams wrote:The major problem [of time travel] is quite simply one of grammar, and the main work to consult in this matter is Dr Dan Streetmentioner's Time Traveller's Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations. It will tell you for instance how to describe something that was about to happen to you in the past before you avoided it by time-jumping forward two days in order to avoid it. The event will be described differently according to whether you are talking about it from the standpoint of your own natural time, from a time in the further future, or a time in the further past and is further complicated by the possibility of conducting conversations whilst you are actually travelling from one time to another with the intention of becoming your own father or mother.

Most readers get as far as the Future Semi-Conditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional before giving up: and in fact in later editions of the book all the pages beyond this point have been left blank to save on printing costs. The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy skips lightly over this tangle of academic abstraction, pausing only to note that the term "Future Perfect" has been abandoned since it was discovered not to be...



http://www.kassandra.ch/tobias/2003/01/dr_dan_streetme.html

http://www.cs.vu.nl/~frankn/fun/quotes/restaurant.html
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future perfect?

Postby sesquipedalianus » Sun Jun 20, 2004 2:14 pm

In the deep mists of antiquity, when I was first learning Latin grammar and trying to come to terms with concepts that were completely foreign to me (i.e., I didn't know enough English grammar!) I suddenly came across the "sequence of tenses" in good old North & Hillard. Everything became clear! It was as though a veil were being lifted (please note the careful use of the rare English subjunctive there...) and suddenly pellucidity was present. Until then the concept of the accusative & infinitive construction was to me a closed book. Now it all seems so simple. The main thing is to forget the twists and turns we can make with tenses in English (after all, the language is so flexible we can do almost anything!) and to stick rigidly to the straightforward oratio obliqua rules in Latin.

Salus omnibus!
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