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    #1

    the first person

    When we relate something as told by another, should it be written in the first person or in the third person? Take the following story for example. Is it necessary to change the first person in bold words into the third person 'he, him, or his'?

    Huang Chun-ming, a senior Taiwanese literary figure and teacher, recently had something happen to him which upset him and which he talked about.

    Once I took the train back to Taipei from Ilan. Halfway, at the Juifang station, a group of high school students got on the car. Crowding outside the toilet, they were noisily laughing and joking as if there were no one else on the train. As I came out of the lavatory, while the train was making a turn, I accidentally bumped into one of the students.

    “What the f*ck are you doing?” He was very upset.
    I said, “Sorry, the train is shaking badly.”

    He looked at me and retorted, “Anyway, you’re condemned to die!” The young man’s unpleasant attitude and rough remarks upset me. After I got home, I told my wife about the incident. How come these Taiwanese kids are becoming so rude and unreasonable? Even if I am going to die, he didn't have to say that.

  1. probus's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: the first person

    There are two ways of doing this.

    You can tell it all in the first person, by using the person's actual words (or an approximation thereof) and enclosing them in quotation marks (or inverted commas, as I have heard them called in BrE.) If you wanted to use this method, you would have written "Once I took ... one of the students" as an actual quotation of Huang Chun-ming's speech. The need to distinguish the quoted words of the student from those of the teacher would be met by enclosing the student's words in single quotes or single inverted commas, e.g. 'What the f*ck are you doing'.

    The other method, which may be easier for you, is to tell it all in the third person, as what we call reported speech. Huang Chun-ming said that this happened, and then that happened and so on.

  2. Route21's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: the first person

    I have a sense of deja vu with this post. I somehow feel I have "bumped" into it before.

    As an NES but not a teacher, as there already quote marks in the passage, I would personally have written the words "Quote" and "Unquote" around the overall passage and left it in the first person.

    It's just my personal way of handling it. Others may (officially) handle it differently.

    Regards
    R21

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    #4

    Re: the first person

    I tried to rewrite the story as written. Is it acceptable?

    Huang Chun-ming, a senior Taiwanese literary figure and teacher, recently had something happen to him which upset him and which he talked about.

    “Once I took the train back to Taipei from Ilan. Halfway, at the Juifang station, a group of high school students got on the car. Crowding outside the toilet, they were noisily laughing and joking as if there were no one else on the train. As I came out of the lavatory, while the train was making a turn, I accidentally bumped into one of the students."

    "‘What the f*ck are you doing?’ He was very upset."
    "I said, ‘Sorry, the train is shaking badly.’"

    "He looked at me and retorted, ‘Anyway, you’re condemned to die!’ The young man’s unpleasant attitude and rough remarks upset me. After I got home, I told my wife about the incident. How come these Taiwanese kids are becoming so rude and unreasonable? Even if I am going to die, he didn't have to say that.”
    Last edited by Ashiuhto; 14-Apr-2013 at 04:53.

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