[Lingtyp] Quotations of speech vs. quotations of thoughts

Alan Hyun-Oak Kim alanhkim at siu.edu
Sun Jan 7 00:15:08 UTC 2018

Dear Denys,

I wonder if the type of usage of the verb merems may typically occur in discourse environments where the speaker prefers to remain noncommittal about his statement for some reason, say, staying in the polite mode (to avoid making an impression of pushiness). I am also alerted by the association of the past tense in your example which is often seen in the subjunctive mood in many languages. The past tense of 'merin' in your example may have to do with the 'irrealis' mood which is often associated with the speaker's reserved request/petition to his superior. The polite sentence-final suffix masu in Japanese is assumed to have its origin in moosu 'to report X to one's superior,' as in 'ik-i-masu (vs. Ik-u, as neutral in politeness.) Its Pre-modern/Middle Japanese counterpart sooroo, which is also a suffix marker of 'say/state/report (to Superior)' is argued (See the reference below) as having an origin in the full reporting verb saburafu and Middle Korean salp-ta and saloi-ta.  Alan H. Kim (2006) in William O'Grady et al.(eds.) Inquiries into Korean Linguistics II, Seoul: Thaehaksa, as well as Alan H. Kim (2014) Grammatical Encoding of Politeness: A Systemic Metaphorization in Japanese Honorifics. Tokyo: Akashi Publishing.

Your New Year's message that reached me this morning via LINGTYP provides insight to me, even though the above phenomena in Japanese and Korean has little to do with your research theme.

Happy New Year to you,


Alan Hyun-Oak Kim, Ph.D.

Professor, Japanese and Linguistics
Department of Language, Culture, and International Studies
Department of Linguistics (Adjunct)
Southern Illinois University Carbondale,
Carbondale, IL 62901-4521
+618-453-5421 (Direct)
+618-536-5571 (Dept)
alanhkim at siu.edu

From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of Denys T. <denys.teptiuk at gmail.com>
Sent: Saturday, January 6, 2018 8:52 AM
Subject: [Lingtyp] Quotations of speech vs. quotations of thoughts

Dear colleagues (especially those working with quotative markers and reported speech),

in Erzya (Mordvinic, Uralic), the verb meŕems with the primary meaning ‘say’ is also used to quote thoughts:

(1) Mon meŕiń, ton Saransat.
1sg say.pst.1sg 2sg Saransk.ine.prs.2sg
‘I thought (lit. I said), you are in Saransk’ (Aasmäe 2012: 66).

However, out of context, the QI-clause Mon meŕiń would likely be interpreted as ‘I said’ and instead of quotation of thoughts one will get the quotation of speech. It is, of course, not a unique thing that one quotative index (clause) can be used to mark different types of reported discourse. I am wondering whether there is cross-linguistic evidence, pointing that the reading ‘I/you/X said’ is prior to the reading ‘I/you/X thought’ in such cases? For instance, notorious I was like to be interpreted out of context as 'I said' rather than 'I thought'? Or that speech verbs are frequently used to mark mental processes, but not vice versa? Is there any hierarchy in the reading of quotations? Are there any studies that would show that one would be prior to another? Is it even reasonable to expect to find something like this? Any suggestions, hints, (language-specific) examples are more than welcome!


Have a nice evening!

Best wishes from Tartu,
Denys Teptiuk
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