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Direct and indirect speech.

To generate sentences such as English `John said that he would come' or `Harry asked what time it was' or `Mary thinks the weather will be nice', one uses nnu plus verbs such as ׶ԧ sollu `say', ش keelu `ask, hear', ׼׺ nene `think'. One simply takes the sentence which is being indirectly quoted and embeds it in the matrix sentence `Noun ... -nnu verb'.

When this is done in some languages, the verb of the quoted sentence is changed to conform in tense to the other verb, i.e., WILL becomes WOULD ; IS becomes WAS, etc. In Tamil, this does not happen. The embedded sentences have verbs with the same tense as they would have if directly quoted, e.g. in English, `Rosa said, ``The weather WILL be nice".' What does change in Tamil is the pronoun, e.g., in the first sentence John is being indirectly quoted. If we were quoting him directly in Tamil, as in English, we would say Ԩ Ԩ - ׶Ԩ jaan [ naan varreen]- nnu sonnaaru. `John said, "I will come".' Thus the only difference in Tamil between direct and indirect speech is in the pronoun concord.See Asher 1982 for a further discussion of this.

Thus in Tamil, surface structure is simpler for asking questions or quoting statements about other questions than it is in English. Suppose we have the following situation in English:

In English, two changes must be made in Bob's question by John. In Tamil the situation is simpler:

In Tamil, Raja is not obliged to change the form of Pillai's question, only to embed it in another sentence before the quotative verb.



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Next: Intent. Up: Quotative Sentences Previous: Quotative Sentences



Harold_F.Schiffman