5

先生が私にみんなに手伝うよう言うよう言った。

The teacher told me to help everybody
or
The teacher told me to tell everyone to help.

Can someone explain which one is correct and why?

  • 先生が私に(みんなに(手伝うよう)言う)よう言った。 – 永劫回帰 Jun 23 '16 at 16:45
5

「[先生]{せんせい}が[私]{わたし}にみんなに[手伝]{てつだ}うよう[言]{い}うよう言った。 」

Everytime you see a verb, you need to figure out what the subject for that verb is. The verbs used here are: 「手伝う」,「言う」 and 「言った」. Follow me so far?

Now, who does each of the three actions? (And which one of the three is the main verb of the sentence?)

The main verb is easy to spot in Japanese because it usually comes at the very end of the sentence, and this sentence is no exception. The main verb (the verb of the sentence) is 「言った」. Who 言った something? 先生 did. Who did 先生 say it to? That is 「私に」= "to me".

If you understand what I stated in the last paragraph, you already have 70-80% of the sentence figured out. So, we already know that the main structure of this sentence is:

"The teacher told me (something)."

Moving on... So the teacher said something to the speaker. What did s/he say? That is 「みんなに手伝うよう言う(よう)」. That is the content of the teacher's 'statement' to the speaker. In other words, that is what the teacher wants the speaker to do because 「~~よう言う」 expresses a request or order.

Thus, the unmentioned subject for the verb 「言う」 is the speaker. The speaker is going to say something to someone. Who is that someone? It is 「みんな(に)」= "(to) everyone". And what is the speaker going to say to everyone? That is 「手伝うよう」= "to hep out". So, the action-taker of the verb 「手伝う」 is "everyone".

The teacher told me to help everybody

or

The teacher told me to tell everyone to help. 

The latter, of course. The former would not explain the use of the verb 「言う」.

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1

The second one, because there are two よう's and two possible speaker-listener pairs (先生、私) and (私、みんな) where a speaker tells a listener "something along the lines of" X.

That is, here AがBにXよう言う is roughly "A tells B do something like X". With three parties, (unless people are talking to themselves) those are the only two pairings that make sense, which means みんなに must be one of the receivers B. This then excludes the parsing where 「みんなに手伝うよう」 is a quotation-object of 言う (your first candidate), because we need みんなに to be the receiver of that 言う.

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