In English (and, I assume, its relatives), there is a style of narration called free indirect speech, some examples of which are given in the linked article.

I'm having trouble figuring out whether or not Japanese supports something similar. Clearly, Japanese has direct speech (直接話法):

A: それはリンゴだ。
B: 「それはリンゴだ」とAは言った。

Japanese also has some sort of indirect/reported speech (間接話法):

A: それはリンゴだ。
B: Aによると、それはリンゴだそうだ。

Can Japanese do free indirect speech (自由間接話法, I guess)? What would that look like? I get the feeling that Japanese might not have a strong distinction between free and ordinary indirect speech, but am having trouble figuring out what the correct mapping between English indirect speech and Japanese indirect speech is.

  • 1
    I think のでしょうか might have a more or less similar function. If the pronoun (A) does not appear, it's very common to temporarily switch the view point from the speaker to the person be talking about. This is often triggered by たら, と, some perception verbs like みる or verbs in the present tense. I don't know how exactly it works.
    – Yang Muye
    May 22, 2014 at 8:29

1 Answer 1

  1. 彼はリンゴを見つめながら悩んだ。彼は、このリンゴを、今食べるべきだろうか?
  2. 彼はリンゴを見つめながら悩んだ。私は、このリンゴを、今食べるべきだろうか?
  3. 彼はリンゴを見つめながら悩んだ。「私は、このリンゴを、今食べるべきだろうか?」
  4. 彼はリンゴを見つめながら悩んだ。このリンゴを、今食べるべきだろうか?

If I'm not mistaken, you're asking whether example 1 is natural in Japanese?

Example 3 is the simplest and of course good. Example 2 omits かぎ括弧 and looks perfect in novels. You can just omit the subject as in example 4, and actually this is the most common way, I think.

And yes, the first example does make sense, and looks natural for me, at least if seen in serious novels. However it is the least common option of the four.

  • 1
    Uses too many commas (and pronouns) in the example sentences.
    – user4032
    May 27, 2014 at 11:43

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