report v quote structures: grey area

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report v quote structures: grey area

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:21 am

In a recent post, the extent of the polysemy, and variation in behaviour syntactically, of the verb bid was mentioned.

I've come across (on the web) examples of the use of bid and wish both as reporting verbs proper and quote verbs:

He bade us a fond farewell.
He bade us welcome.

... bade us "Goodbye" [unusual]

She wished us a Merry Christmas.
She wished us Merry Christmas.

She wished us "Merry Christmas."

Has anyone any strong aversions to the quotative usages?

Can anyone think of any other verbs used in both capacities?
(Say appears to be, of course:

He said {that} she was going shopping.
He said "She was going shopping."

but the meaning changes slightly.)
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Re: report v quote structures: grey area

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:53 am

Edwin F Ashworth wrote:Has anyone any strong aversions to the quotative usages?
I don't.

However, I do agree that
... bade us "Goodbye"
has an odd ring. I think this is because the salutation "Goodbye" is so empty of inherent content that the apparent elevation of its importance through the use of quotation marks encourages one to speculate on the possible reason for this treatment. (In other words, one is invited to wonder why the focus is on the form of words that signifies the end of the visit rather than on the concrete fact of the visit coming to an end.)

If the salutation is expanded, for instance:
... bade us "Goodbye, and I hope we'll see you again just as soon as your legs are out of traction"
it sounds less exotic (albeit also less probable), and sounds less unusual still if we add an introductory adjective:
... bade us a cheery "Goodbye, and I hope we'll see you again just as soon as your legs are out of traction"
This also works with the bald "Goodbye" version:
... bade us a cheery "Goodbye"
On the other hand, I am faintly averse to the capitalization of 'merry' in:

She wished us a Merry Christmas

on the grounds that here, 'merry' is purely descriptive rather than being a restatement of the actual greeting.

She wished us a merry Christmas

is sufficient.
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Re: report v quote structures: grey area

Post by dante » Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:45 pm

Has anyone any strong aversions to the quotative usages?
I do, and I think the main reason that "She wished us "Merry Christmas." sounds wrong to me is that I have been speaking English for over 6.0 years now :) I don't sound as convincing as Bob, do I?
I can't explain why, but I just can't construe "wish" as introducing a direct quote, at least not in any sense comparable to the use of the reporting verbs like: say, tell, ask etc.

Like many other verbs, "wish" can be used parenthetically though, to introduce non-embedded reported speech (the term used in CGEL):
"Have a merry Christmas,” Logan wished them as he and Michael headed toward the door. “
On the whole, I guess that to non-native speakers like me only the verbs like tell, answer, reply, write, ask, think..,which naturally introduce a speech act, written communication, personal thought or similar, sound natural when they are followed by a direct quote. Most often the direct quotes introduced by these verbs can easily be reported indirectly, without or only with a slight change in the meaning.
Since direct quotes are naturally used in academic writing, novels or similar, with other verbs in this position the wording will sound even more stilted or formal/literary. It seems that the default position of those verbs is after the quote or part of the quote it introduces, as in the sentence I cited above.
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Re: report v quote structures: grey area

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:27 pm

Thank youse for your thoughts.

I agree about the difference between a merry Christmas and "Merry Christmas (!)", Erik.

Your

. . . bade us a cheery "Goodbye . . .

opens a can of worms about the type of syntax involved - using a determiner (plus adjective) with a quote. It does appear on Google, though, and its meaning is quite clear.

Dante, can you give more details on CGEL's claim that

"Have a merry Christmas,” Logan wished them as he and Michael headed toward the door.

is an example of 'non-embedded reported speech' rather than direct speech ('a quote' is standardly accepted as synonymous), please?
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Re: report v quote structures: grey area

Post by dante » Tue Apr 03, 2012 10:45 pm

Of course Edwin. The sentence "Have a merry Christmas,” Logan wished them as he and Michael headed toward the door. is not from CGEL, it is from Google books and I used it for comparison with your "She wished us "Merry Christmas."
Here is how "embedded and non-embedded reported speech" are explained under the heading "Direct reported speech" on page 1026 of CGEL:

Embedded:

i a) She replied, "I live alone"
ii a) He asked, "Where do you live"


Non-embedded

ib) "I live alone" she replied.
iib) "Where do you live?" he asked.

Direct speech purports to be identical to the original, and hence the embedded and non-embedded constructions do not differ with respect to the form of the reported speech itself...Nevertheless, the contrast between the two constructions can be maintained on the basis of the reporting frames: in the b) examples the reporting frame has the status of parenthetical, while in the a) examples the reporting verb is syntactically superordinate to the reported speech. This is reflected in the fact that the a) construction as a whole can itself be subordinated, whereas b) type cannot:

1a. I was taken aback when she replied, "I live alone." 1b) * I was taken aback when "I live alone," she replied.

Similarly, we can have He hadn't expected her to reply, "I live alone" , but there is no corresponding construction with a parenthetical.
In the embedded construction we therefore take the reported speech to function as complement of the reporting verb. However, this complement - I live alone in ia) and 1a) - is not a content clause. It is not a subordinate clause of any kind. What is embedded in these examples happens to have the form of a clause, but it can be longer than that:

2. She replied, "I live alone. My son lives alone too. We both prefer it that way."

The construction thus involves the embedding of a text, not of clauses as such.
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Re: report v quote structures: grey area

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:56 am

Thanks, Dante.

A Michelin star for the HP source on this topic.
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Re: report v quote structures: grey area

Post by dante » Wed Apr 04, 2012 12:08 pm

You're welcome Edwin :)
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Re: report v quote structures: grey area

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Sun Sep 07, 2014 3:35 pm

The following, from 'The Handbook of Good English by Edward D Johnson' (I believe), makes the whole quote-or-report issue even less clear:

The question was, did he like zucchini? is correct; the past tense of the question may seem to make it indirect, but it is still direct. Note that 'did' is not capitalized; it could be, and some editors routinely capitalize in such a situation
[(The question was, Did he like zucchini?)],
but a capital is a surprise after a comma and in the example would give the question more independence and emphasis than the writer may want it to have. Note also the comma after 'was', needed to set up the question, almost as a weak colon.

We could, of course, actually use the colon and capitalize after it:
The question was: Did he like zucchini? [when some style guides also license
The question was: did he like zucchini?]. Or we could add quotation marks—which makes changing the tense desirable—and then would need no punctuation before the question
The question was "Does he like zucchini?" These alternatives make the sentence rather stately, almost dramatic; the writer may prefer the smoother, more casual
The question was, did he like zucchini?.
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Re: report v quote structures: grey area

Post by Phil White » Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:07 pm

If someone were to pull out my toenails with hot pincers and force me to formulate that thought in that way at all, my option would be the colon every time. Capitalization after the colon is largely a pondside thing. American English favours capitalization after colons if what follows the colon is a clause rather than a list of items, and even with a list, there is still a tendency to capitalize.

Personally, if I am reporting, I report:
"The question was whether he liked courgettes."

In a past tense narrative, I might opt for the direct speech option, but would feel constrained to change the tense, and I would probably still use the colon:
"The question was: 'Did he like baby marrows?'"
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Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

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