Saying, talking and telling
Basic verbal communication verbs in Swedish and English
This study compares the major Verbal Communication Verbs (VCVs) in English say, tell, speak and talk with their Swedish correspondents säga, berätta, tala and prata. The analysis is based on data from the English–Swedish Parallel Corpus. The semantic and functional description of the verbs is based on the theory of semantic frames and on speech act theory. The verbs are used primarily to report speech, but say and tell and Swedish säga are used also metalinguistically as a commentary on the current discourse as it unfolds. In English, talk and speak turn out to have a wide range of uses that are divided up in a different way in Swedish, whereas tala has many language-specific uses in Swedish. Tell has two major semantic correspondents in Swedish, berätta, which is used to report a complex sequence of events or facts, and the particle verb tala om, which tends to report a single fact. However, tell has a rather general meaning and the most frequent translation is actually säga ‘say’. That tell lacks a direct equivalent in Swedish also explains why tell turns out to be significantly underrepresented in English texts that are translated from Swedish in comparison to original English texts. Genre-based differences are also discussed. For example, not only are say and säga much more frequent in fiction than in non-fiction, but the uses are also distributed differently.
- 2.Database and the general model of analysis
- 2.1The English–Swedish Parallel Corpus (ESPC) and the distribution across genres
- 2.2Frame semantics
- 3.The nuclear verbs say and säga
- 3.1The English verb say
- 3.2The Swedish verb säga
- 3.3Impersonal speaker and lexical hearsay
- 3.4Metalinguistic and related special discourse functions of SAY
- 3.4.1“As I said”: Connecting to previous discourse
- 3.4.2Metalinguistic uses
- 3.5Translation patterns
- 3.6Summing up SAY
- 4.The speech activity verbs: Talk and speak, tala, prata and snacka
4.3Special uses of talk and its Swedish counterparts
- 4.4Summing up the major speech activity verbs
- 5.The major information verbs: Tell and berätta and tala om
- 5.1.1Tell as an information verb
- 5.1.2Tell as a Directive verb
5.1.3Tell as a mental verb
- 5.2The major Swedish information verbs
5.3What happens in translation?
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Sikveland, Rein Ove & Elizabeth Stokoe
. Should Police Negotiators Ask to “Talk” or “Speak” to Persons in Crisis? Word Selection and Overcoming Resistance to Dialogue Proposals
. Research on Language and Social Interaction
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