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Understanding Virtual Indirect Discourse

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Understanding Virtual Indirect Discourse

Postby Venator » Mon Jul 28, 2014 2:44 am

I've run across this construction in several grammars, under different names (partial obliquity, virtual oratio obliqua, informal indirect discourse). I understand that the gist of it is that subordinate clauses with a subjunctive verb can be used to express the thoughts/speech of someone other than the writer. But am I also correct in conceiving of this construction as merely an extension of subordinate clauses in indirect discourse? That is to say, to the Latin mind, is this less a separate construction from indirect discourse, and more just indirect discourse with only the subordinate clause(s) being expressed?
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Re: Understanding Virtual Indirect Discourse

Postby Qimmik » Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:21 pm

is this less a separate construction from indirect discourse, and more just indirect discourse with only the subordinate clause(s) being expressed?


Yes. Of course, the subjunctive can be used in subordinate clauses in other ways, too--for example, a relative clause of purpose.

I believe the use in Latin of the subjunctive in relative clauses that would otherwise take an indicative verb falls into the general linguistic categories of "evidentiality" or "epistemic modality."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidentiality

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemic_modality
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Re: Understanding Virtual Indirect Discourse

Postby Venator » Mon Jul 28, 2014 5:09 pm

Thank you! Although strictly speaking, all purpose clauses (including relative clauses of purpose) can be classified as virtual indirect discourse, as they are reporting the intentions/goals of another. Nevertheless, just as you say, not all subordinate clauses with a subjunctive are virtual indirect discourse.

The linguistic stuff on evidentiality and epistemic modality is very interesting (although a bit over my head, as I am by no means a linguist).
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Re: Understanding Virtual Indirect Discourse

Postby Qimmik » Mon Jul 28, 2014 5:45 pm

all purpose clauses (including relative clauses of purpose) can be classified as virtual indirect discourse, as they are reporting the intentions/goals of another.

Maybe not when they express the purpose of the speakers themselves. Which is why I suggested that a distinction could be drawn between the use of the subjunctive in relative clauses of purpose and its use in "virtual" indirect discourse.
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