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Book section Open Access

Time reference in English indirect speech

Leufkens, Sterre

Olbertz, Hella; Mackenzie, Lachlan

When a quotation is syntactically embedded in English, there are repercussions for temporal reference: absolute referential elements have to shift to the new deictic centre. Absolute adverbials must be adapted, dropped or replaced by relative elements. Tense undergoes so-called sequence of tenses (tense copying): a past tense main clause requires backshifting of the embedded tense. The chapter discusses Comrie's (1986) analysis of this phenomenon and examines exceptions. It discusses criticism by Declerck (1988) and goes on to show how Functional Discourse Grammar (Hengeveld & Mackenzie 2008) elegantly explains the data: tense copying, triggered by a Reportativity operator at the Interpersonal Level, is accounted for by operator copying at the Morphosyntactic Level, restricted by information from the Representational Level. 

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