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Thread: TS Eliot says

  1. #1
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default TS Eliot says

    Foreigners always say 'Confucius says' but not 'said', because they think Confucius is immortal to Chinese people, and if they say 'Confucius said', that is an insult.

    So can I say 'TS Eliot IS a talented writer' because I regard him as immortal?

  2. #2
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: TS Eliot says

    I don't know where you are getting your information, but I have always heard "Confucius say..." and that is mocking the English of Chinese people.

    TS Eliot is dead. He was a talented writer.

  3. #3
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default Re: TS Eliot says

    Thank you.

    So you don't think we can say 'Confucius says'?

  4. #4
    HanibalII is offline Member
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    Default Re: TS Eliot says

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    Foreigners always say 'Confucius says' but not 'said', because they think Confucius is immortal to Chinese people, and if they say 'Confucius said', that is an insult.

    So can I say 'TS Eliot IS a talented writer' because I regard him as immortal?
    No, TS Elliot is dead. You would say 'was a talented writer'. But considering him as an immortal, you could say is, however you would need to provide a good deal of context.




    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    Thank you.

    So you don't think we can say 'Confucius says'?
    Usually when they use the phrase 'Confucius says' they are referring to his writings, not actually the person. I've heard the phrase regularly.
    I'm not a teacher yet, but I am studying a Bachelor of Education with an English Literature major at Charles Sturt University, in NSW, Australia.

  5. #5
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default Re: TS Eliot says

    Thank you.

    When in literature lectures, I often encounter a problem:

    If we are talking about the story in a drama, a poem, fiction, etc. of course we use the historical present tense; when the professor tells me to say something apart from the content of the work, I don't know what tense to use:

    Eliot uses/used the stream of consciousness.
    Frost thinks/thought that....

    A dictionary can never tell me whether USE etc. should be part of the content (so the present tense), or should be a one-moment act (so the past tense)which Eliot did in the past.

  6. #6
    HanibalII is offline Member
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    Default Re: TS Eliot says

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    Thank you.

    When in literature lectures, I often encounter a problem:

    If we are talking about the story in a drama, a poem, fiction, etc. of course we use the historical present tense; when the professor tells me to say something apart from the content of the work, I don't know what tense to use:

    Eliot uses/used the stream of consciousness.
    Frost thinks/thought that....

    A dictionary can never tell me whether USE etc. should be part of the content (so the present tense), or should be a one-moment act (so the past tense)which Eliot did in the past.

    I would use 'Elliot uses the stream', because it's the writing you're referring to in the present not the past.

    The same with 'Frost thinks that'. I regularly come across this in my psychology text books. Such as 'Freud describes his theory as'. Only when you're referring to something that that author had specifically written.
    I'm not a teacher yet, but I am studying a Bachelor of Education with an English Literature major at Charles Sturt University, in NSW, Australia.

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: TS Eliot says

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    So can I say 'TS Eliot IS a talented writer' because I regard him as immortal?
    His work may be immortal, but he wasn't. It's fine to say TS Eliot says, but your example doesn't work well for me. Curiously, TS Eliot is a great writer works better because that sounds more like a current opinion, while yours sounds more like a review, which would be located in the past. Other people may see things differently- this isn't an exact science, but when expressing an opinion about a dead writer in the present tense, a general current opinion works better than a personal one for me.

  8. #8
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default Re: TS Eliot says

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    His work may be immortal, but he wasn't. It's fine to say TS Eliot says, but your example doesn't work well for me. Curiously, TS Eliot is a great writer works better because that sounds more like a current opinion, while yours sounds more like a review, which would be located in the past. Other people may see things differently- this isn't an exact science, but when expressing an opinion about a dead writer in the present tense, a general current opinion works better than a personal one for me.
    Thank you. This is exactly the answer that I wanted.

    By the way, when I was listening to a lecture today, and I was asked to talk, a problem arose:

    What the writer (a dead writer) wants/wanted to say is/was that....


    I am still unsure about what tense to use.

    It seems that the historic present is OK because the writer's want seems to have been frozen inside the work and when giving a comment we can treat it as describing a plot.

    It seems that the past tense is OK because, of course, the writer wrote the work decades ago and what he wanted to tell us is past.

    PS In Chinese, there is no inflection; to denote time, we simply use an adjunct.
    Last edited by nelson13; 03-Nov-2012 at 13:29.

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: TS Eliot says

    I think that both the present and the past work there.

  10. #10
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default Re: TS Eliot says

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I think that both the present and the past work there.
    Thank you. Is consistency needed?:

    What the writer wants to say is that....

    What the writer wanted to say was that....

    if they are OK,

    how about a mixture:

    What the writer wants to say was that.... (it sounds strange to me)
    What the writer wanted to say is that.... (it sounds logical to me)

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