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I'm playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past(ゼルダの伝説:神々のトライフォース)and this sentence came up (spoken by one of the 7 maidens):

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。

I think this means "It is said that the Hylian people could harness/manipulate a mysterious power.". Why did they use と言います instead of と言われています? I thought that's how you'd indicate a myth or some widely-believed story.

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  • Perhaps the intention is to say something else...?
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 22:11
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    As in English, there's nuance differences between the active and passive versions, but "They say the Hylian people could harness a miraculous/mysterious power" doesn't feel that different in meaning to me.
    – virmaior
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 23:54
  • @virmaior It seems obvious now that you say it :D Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 16:30
  • Great question, I've been wondering about this myself. I've borrowed your sentence in a new question, hope you don't mind. Also, don't I know you from TextFugu?
    – waldrumpus
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 9:39
  • @waldrumpus Interesting question you used my example sentence with, I hadn't thought of that. And yes, I'm a member of TF; I use the same username+avatar here. What avatar do you have on TF? I tend to remember them better than usernames. Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 16:37

2 Answers 2

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The difference is very subtle, but there is a difference. With と言います, it sounds as if the myth is actually true or people somehow believe it. With と言われています, it sounds as if it is an actual myth. There is no rule that says you must use と言われています when indicating a myth.

I've never played the game, but you can probably infer that the maiden actually believes the myth and she is informing the player about it. That's at least the impression I get with と言います, but again, the difference is very subtle. It makes sense with either way.

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It is very natural to interpret the sentence in the first way, as a Japanese native speaker. However, the punctuation is not correct. 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。 is more correct.

If you would like to say in the latter manner, the following sentences are appropriate: in a present sense, ハイリアの民は、ふしぎな力を あやつることできる、と言っています。 or, in a past sense, ハイリアの民は、ふしぎな力を あやつることできる、と言っていました。.

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    I thought the position of the comma was odd too, but that's how the text appeared on the screen. Are you sure と言っています is also fine? Can that form be used to represent a story that has been passed down through the generations? Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 18:28
  • @user6928 : Perhaps you should answer this question instead? japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/18060/…
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 0:53
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    1. 「あやつることできる」 sounds unnatural. Is that a typo? 2. Are you saying と言っています and と言っていました are more appropriate than と言われています to mean "It is said that~~"?
    – user1016
    Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 3:39
  • あやつることできるis definitely a typo. It should be あやつることができる. Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 16:33

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