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    #1

    reported speech in minutes

    Dear all,
    Could anyone please explain the usage of tenses in these sentences from the Minutes of the Monetary Policy Committee meeting - 4 and 5 August 2010:
    1. Consumer confidence had fallen in May and was broadly unchanged in June, but it had risen sharply in July, towards its late 2007 level.
    Isn't it necessary to backshift also "was unchanged" to "had been unchanged"?

    2. CPI inflation had fallen by 0.2% in June to 3.2%. Goods price inflation had fallen in May and June, while services inflation had been rising for some months. This had followed a period where goods price inflation had been stronger than services price inflation, reflecting exchange rate pressures. Is it really necessary to use past perfect throughout the minutes, especially as there is no reporting verb? It seems a bit confusing.

    I often have to translate minutes, but I don't usually use past perfect that much. Maybe I should? I'm really looking forward to hearing the opinion of native speakers.
    Thanks!

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    #2

    Re: reported speech in minutes

    Why not simplify it:

    Consumer confidence fell in May and was broadly unchanged in June, but it rose sharply in July, towards its late 2007 level.

    The minutes should reflect the actions of the board. This sounds like it's background info.

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    #3

    Re: reported speech in minutes

    Thanks for your answer.
    I agree that it might be simplified, but I wanted to hear the reasons behind this selection of tenses..
    This is actually what they discussed at the meeting, but I agree that these minutes are a bit unusual.
    Thanks once again.

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    #4

    Re: reported speech in minutes

    You will have to ask the person who took the minutes.
    It sounds like a personal preference in how to describe events along a time line.

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    #5

    Re: reported speech in minutes

    Not a teacher nor a native speaker.

    If I may express my opinion, although not asked - I think that the past perfect tense was used to (as you probably know) note that something happened before something else (/at first/ CPI had fallen and /then/ it was...) and/or emphasize that the results of those events were important in the past (they had an influence on the economy).
    As I had an opportunity to write minutes before, I agree with susiedqq - past simple is sufficient for this task, unless, of course, past perfect is necessary. And here it is not; therefore one might consider this as a kind of newspeak, "official newspeak", used only by the officials to look wiser than they really are.

    Oh, and one more thing.
    Please note the difference between "percentage points" and "per cent":
    - CPI falls from 3.4% to 3.2% - it falls by 0.2 percentage points
    - CPI falls from ~3.2064% to 3.2% - it falls by 0.2%.
    It is a big difference.

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    #6

    Re: reported speech in minutes

    Thank you for your comments.
    Thanks even more for bringing my attention to the difference between % and percentage points in this case - I must admit that it has never crossed my mind before (and it really is a big mistake).

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