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A recent question about the usage of quoted speech contained this interesting sample sentence:

ハイリアの民は、ふしぎな力を あやつることが、できたと言います。

Often when I read this kind of sentence, I wonder if ハイリアの民 is part of the quoted sentence, or the actor doing the quoting.

That is, can this sentence only be read as "They say that the people of Hylia were able to harness a mysterious power" (which seems to be the only reading considered in the aforementioned discussion), or is "The people of Hylia say that they (not necessarily the Hylians) were able to harness a mysterious power" also a valid reading?

If only the first reading is valid, is this possibly due to the usage of the particle versus , which would mark the speaker?

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Not sure it's really enough for a full answer, but often when there could be some ambiguity as to who is doing the saying, it's moved to after the と: ハイリアの民は、ふしぎな力を あやつることが、できたと(皆が)言います。 –  Brandon Jul 31 at 13:12
    
@user6928 : Perhaps this is the right place for you to explain the commas? –  Tim Aug 2 at 0:52

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I would interpret it this way:

『ハイリアの[民]{たみ}は、ふしぎな力をあやつることができた』と言います。
(They say that the people of Hylia were able to harness a mysterious power.)*

with or without the commas.

And I would write it this way:

ハイリアの民は、不思議な力を操ることができたと言います。
ハイリアの民は不思議な力を操ることができたと言います。
or
ハイリアの民は、不思議な力を操ることができた、と言います。


If ハイリアの民 was the subject of 言います, then I would expect something like this:

ハイリアの民は、XXが、ふしぎな力をあやつることができたと言います。
or
XXはふしぎな力をあやつることができた、とハイリアの民は言います。


*I interpreted your sentence this way maybe because of the words that are being used. If I read, for example:

山田さんは、幼いころ[竹馬]{たけうま}に[乗]{の}れた、と言います。

I would read it as "Mr Yamada claims that he was able to walk on stilts as a child," with or without the commas.

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(1) Doesn't the comma after は in your 2nd example mean that the ハイリアの民 gained the power and made the statement? (2) What is the function of the comma after the が in your 4th sentence? –  Tim Aug 2 at 3:41
    
@Tim (1) Hmm, maybe it's possible depending on the context... but I think it's more natural to read it like "As for the people of Hylia, it is said that they were able to harness..." probably this is because of the words that are used in the example sentence. I'll add another example using different words. (2) 「XXが」の「が」ですね。optionalだと思います。「ハイリアの民は、XXが~~できたと言います」でもいいと思います。 –  Choko Aug 2 at 4:23
    
Thank you but for (2) what does the comma add? Is it just a pause for effect? –  Tim Aug 3 at 0:55

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