mailing list For webmasters
Welcome Guest
What he said Options
raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Tuesday, April 6, 2021 1:28:29 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/14/2020
Posts: 483
Neurons: 2,824
Hi,

Is the following sentence ambiguous?

What he said remains a mystery.

Could it mean either "The question of what he said remains a mystery" (i.e., we don't know what he said) or "The thing he said remains a mystery" (i.e., we know what he said, but it is difficult to understand)?
thar
Posted: Tuesday, April 6, 2021 1:48:12 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 24,024
Neurons: 97,376
What he said

ie that sound, those words

remain a mystery.

ie we don't know what he said.

It is not ambiguous.


raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Tuesday, April 6, 2021 3:12:23 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/14/2020
Posts: 483
Neurons: 2,824
Thank you. Is the following okay?

What he said that day has been frequently asked.


If it's okay, does it mean "The question of what he said that day has been frequently asked"?
thar
Posted: Tuesday, April 6, 2021 3:17:35 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 24,024
Neurons: 97,376
No, because again, 'what he said' is those words.
You don't ask words. You ask a question. It is the wrong object of 'ask'.

You could say:
People have frequently asked what he said.

Because that is a report that:
People have frequently asked, "What did he say?"
There the object of 'ask' is a question, or a reported question.
Audiendus
Posted: Tuesday, April 6, 2021 8:10:47 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/24/2011
Posts: 7,222
Neurons: 1,354,562
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
thar wrote:
You could say:
People have frequently asked what he said.

What do you think about the following?

"What he said that day is a question that has been frequently asked."
thar
Posted: Tuesday, April 6, 2021 8:53:29 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 24,024
Neurons: 97,376
Umm. No. Still doesn't feel right.
Because 'what he said that day' is a noun phrase, not a question. You can't ask a noun phrase.

Move the position of 'what' in the sentence and it becomes a pronoun

what he said that day has been the object of speculation.



Audiendus
Posted: Tuesday, April 6, 2021 9:19:27 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/24/2011
Posts: 7,222
Neurons: 1,354,562
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
thar wrote:
Umm. No. Still doesn't feel right.
Because 'what he said that day' is a noun phrase, not a question. You can't ask a noun phrase.

Move the position of 'what' in the sentence and it becomes a pronoun

what he said that day has been the object of speculation.

But you are happy with "People have frequently asked what he said" (see above). Isn't "what he said" a noun phrase there? They have not asked the words he said (where "what" would be a pronoun); they have asked what words he said.
Users browsing this topic
Guest


Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.