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Summary Details


Query:   Query Summary: Tense
Author:  minako nakayasu
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Syntax

Summary:   Dear LINGUIST Subscribers,

A month ago I sent out an E-mail inquiry on tense in complement
clauses. I would like to thank the following people for their kind
replies. I will enclose a summary of their answers.

Special thanks to linguists who answered my questionnaire:

Frederik Fouvry
Deborah Miliam Berkley
David Houghton
Annabel Cormack
Gordon Nicholson
Eleanor Batchelder
Keira Ballantyne
Gerald B Mathias
Peter Keiser

Deepest gratitude goes to linguists who sent their own or friends'
papers:

Raphael Salkie
"Time Reference in Reported Speech," by Salkie, R. and S. Reed,
to appear in a new journal, English Language and Linguistics.
Renaat Declerck
"Constraints on Tense Choice in Reported Speech," by Declerck, R.
and
K. Tanaka, in Studia Linguistica 50-3, 1996.
Nobue Mori
"Tense Restrictions on Interclausal Quantifier-Binding," by Nunes,
J.
and E. Thompson, in Proceedings of the Tenth Eastern States
Conference on Linguistics, 1993.
"The Discourse Representation of Temporal Dependencies," by Nunes,
J. and E. Thompson, in Temporal Reference, Aspect, and Actionality,
Vol. 1: Semantic and Syntactic Perspectives by Bertinetto, V., J.
Bianchi, and M. Higginbotham, Rosenberg & Sellier, 1995.

I am also greatful to a linguist who let me know some pieces of
information concerning Declerck & Tanaka's paper:

Kaneaki Arimura

The summary is as follows:
My question was "Is the present tense OK?", so I will use "Yes" (the
present tense is OK) and "No" (not OK). Note that some linguists
answered all questions, while the others did not. The numerals show
the number of the linguists who have had the opinion. As for (5),
(6), (17) and (18), I will just write down the opinions.

(1) a. They thought Oxford was/is in London. (Yes 1; No 5; was is better
1)
b. They thought Oxford University was/is in London. (Yes 1; No 4;
was is better 1)
c. They thought Oxford Street was/is in London. (Yes 1; No 4; was
is
better 1)
(2) a. John said Mary was/is a liar. (Yes 5; No 1; ?? 1)
b. I said Mary was/is a liar. (Yes 5; No 1; ?? 1; OK if said is
stressed 1)
c. I said I was/am a liar. (Yes 4; No 2; ?? 1)
d. John said I was/am a liar. (Yes 5; No 1; ?? 1)
(3) a. John thought Mary was/is a liar. (Yes 1; No 5; ? 1)
b. I thought Mary was/is a liar. (Yes 1; No 5; ?1)
c. I thought I was/am a liar. (Yes 1; No 5; weird even if the
past
tense 1)
d. John thought I was/am a liar. (Yes 2; No 5)
(4) a. John told me Mary was/is a liar. (Yes 4; No 1; ?? 1; past is a
little
better 1)
b. I told myself Mary was/is a liar. (Yes 4; No 1; ?? 1; past is a
little better 1)
c. I told myself I was/am a liar. (Yes 4; No 1; ?? 1; past is a
little
better 1)
d. John told me I was/am a liar. (Yes 4; No 1; ?? 1; past is
better 1)
e. John told Mary she was/is a liar. (Yes 4; No 1; ?? 1; past is
better
1)
f. I told Mary she was/is a liar. (Yes 4; No 1; ?? 1; past is a
little
better 1; marginally acceptable 1)
g. I told Mary I was/am a liar. (Yes 3; No 2; ?? 1; past is a
little
better 1; marginally acceptable 1)
h. John told Mary I was/am a liar. (Yes 3; No 2; ?? 1; past is a
little
better 1)
(5) In (2)-(4) above, you must have found some examples
where the complement clause can have a present tense.
Is your judgment still the same if we put "always" in the
main clause?
[Yes - 2] [No] [less acceptable -2] [the present tense is acceptable
with all but (3)] [a little odder]
A linguist has made an example where the present tense is OK:
(i) John always told me that Mary has her head in the clouds, and
now I think he's right.

(6) In (2)-(4) above, you have found other examples where
the complement clause can accept only a past tense.
What will happen if we change the situation in the
complement clause to "someone be lying," e.g. she is
lying? or "someone be still lying"? Is the present tense
OK in such a case?
[No - 5] [only in (2)] [OK in all but (3)]

(7) a. I thought Scotlant was/is too far. (Yes 2; No 5; odd 1; past is
better 1)
b. Scotland, I thought, was/is too far. (Yes 6; No 1; odd 1)
c. Scotland was/is, I thought, too far. (Yes 6; No 1; odd 1)
d. Scotland was/is too far, I thought. (Yes 6; No 1; odd 1)
(8) a. He thought Scotland was/is too far. (Yes 2; No 4; odd 1; past is
better 1)
b. Scotland, he thought, was/is too far. (Yes 6; No 1; odd 1)
c. Scotland was/is, he thought, too far. (Yes 6; No 1; odd 1)
d. Scotland was/is too far, he thought. (Yes 6; No 1; odd 1)
(9) a. You thought Scotland was/is too far. (Yes 2; No 4; odd 1; past
is
better 1)
b. Scotland, you thought, was/is too far. (Yes 6; No 1; odd 1)
c. Scotland was/is, you thought, too far. (Yes 6; No 1; odd 1)
d. Scotland was/is too far, you thought. (Yes 6; No 1; odd 1)
(10) a. Galileo believed the earth moved/moves. (Yes 5; No 2; a little
odd 1)
b. I believed the earth moved/moves. (Yes 5; No 2; a little
odd 1)
c. John believed the earth moved/moves. (Yes 5; No 2; a little
odd 1)
(Some point out that the past tense implies a specifc movement, whereas
the present tense implies a general movement.)
(11) a. Galileo believed the sun moved/moves. (Yes 4; No 3; a little odd
1)
b. I believed the sun moved/moves. (Yes 4; No 3; a little odd
1)
c. John believed the sun moved/moves. (Yes 3; No 4; a little
odd 1)
(12) a. I said I was/am going to do it. (Yes 5; No 1; ?? 1; OK if said
is
stressed 1)
b. I said you were/are going to do it. (Yes 5; No 1; ?? 1)
c. I said she was/is going to do it. (Yes 5; No 1; ?? 1)
d. You said I was/am going to do it. (Yes 4; No 2; ?? 1)
e. You said you were/are going to do it. (Yes 4; No 2; ?? 1)
f. You said she was/is going to do it. (Yes 5; No 1; ?? 1)
g. She said I was/am going to do it. (Yes 5; No 1; ?? 1)
h. She said you were/are going to do it. (Yes 4; No 2; ?? 1)
i. She said she was/is going to do it. (Yes 5; No 1; ?? 1)
(13) a. Did you know I had/have come? (Yes 3; No 5; came is better 1)
b. Did you know Tom had/has come? (Yes 3; No 2; ?? 2; came is
better 1)
c. Did you know I had/have lost a tooth? (Yes 5; No 1; ?? 1;
lost is
better 1)
d. Did you know Tom had/has lost a tooth? (Yes 5; No 1; ?? 1;
lost
is better 1)
(14) a. Did you know I was/am here? (Yes 2; No 6; was is better 1)
b. Did you know Tom was/am here? (Yes 4; No 1; less acceptable
1; ?? 1; was is better 1)
c. Did you know I was/am in Tokyo? (Yes 4; No 3; was is better
1)
d. Did you know Tom was/is in Tokyo? (Yes 5; No 1; ?? 1; was is
better 1)
(15) a. They told me you were/are in London. (Yes 4; No 3; distinct
nuance 1)
b. They told me Tom was/is in London. (Yes 6; No 1; ?? 1)
c. They told me you were/are here. (Yes 4; No 4)
d. They told me Tom was/is here. (Yes 7; No 1; ?? 1)
(16) a. They said you were/are in London. (Yes 2; No 4; distinct nuance
1)
b. They said Tom was/is in London. (Yes 5; No 1; ?? 1)
c. They said you were/are here. (Yes 2; No 5)
d. They said Tom was/is here. (Yes 4; No 2; ?? 1)
(17) In (13)-(16) above, we have found some examples where
the complement clause can accept only a past tense.
What will happen if we put "still"in the complement
clause? Is the pressent tense OK?
[the present tense is not OK - 6]
[only for 3rd person] ["still" introduces a duration - some present
tense is OK]

(18) In (13)-(16) above, the speaker is addressing to the
hearer directly. Are your judgments still the same if we
change the situations like this: the speaker is
talking on the phone to the hearer, who is in a distant
place?
[the same] [No - 2] [Yes for (13a) and (14a) - 2] [for some of them
the
present would be possibly acceptable]
A linguist points out that for (13a) and (14a) to be OK, there should be
some ill feeling between the participants, e.g. the hearer will be
angered or surprised by the presence of the speaker.

Sorry for anything which might have been missed out. I will present a
paper at the 114th meeting of the Linguistic Society of Japan to be
held at Gakushuin University, Tokyo, Japan, on June 15. I will take
some of these results into consideration. Others will contribute my
future research immensely. I would like to thank again those who have
helped me in various ways.

Minako Nakayasu
Assistant Professor
Kagoshima Women's College
1904 Uchi
Hayato-cho, Aira-gun, Kagoshima
899-51 Japan
nakayasu@kwc-u.ac.jp

LL Issue: 8.872
Date Posted: 14-Jun-1997
Original Query: Read original query


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