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ERIC Number: ED318246
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-Dec
Pages: 13
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Tense Variation in Indirect Speech.
Pufahl, Ingrid
A study of the extent to which the sequence-of-tenses rule (STR) is used in television news reporting in the United States is presented. The study examines which tenses are shifted most frequently and explains the uses and functions of tense variation. It is argued that STR is not always a semantically and pragmatically unmarked form as proposed by prescriptive grammars. Rather, in almost all cases in which it may be optional, reporters shift tenses to distance themselves from quoted speakers or quoted speech contents. By the same token, tenses are not shifted when reporters agree with the original speaker. However, if negative evaluation is marked by other devices, lack of tense shift is used to signal that the original speaker is still committed to the validity of his proposition, suggesting that the news content is still valid. A special case is simple past in the original speech, which is hardly ever backshifted, and in which case other devices mark evaluation. This suggests that the tense backshift rule is being replaced by the tense concord rule and that retention of simple past is typical of colloquial style, which networks try to use in their broadcasting. (Author/MSE)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A