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English as a Second Language/Direct and indirect (or reported) speech

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Question
Dear Shannon,

Please read this paragraph taken from the BBC website:

The IRC says many refugees are citing rape as the main reason they left Syria and describes it as a major feature of the war. It is often committed in front of family members, the agency says.

My question: Are the words before "the agency says" direct or indirect (reported) speech". If they are direct speech,why there are no quotation marks?

Please explain in detail.

Thanks & best regards,

Answer
This would be considered indirect speech.  Even though the initial set up of the sentence is very similar in this case to direct speech, there are no quotation marks used, so it has to be indirect speech.

If we examine the sentence closely, we can see that there is a clear indication of this being reported speech.  The first part, as I mentioned, could have been either way: The IRC says many refugees are citing rape as the main reason they left Syria...   No problem, if this was an official statement, word-for-word, from the IRC.  However, this is probably just a summary of a much larger report, and the BBC wished to make a simple statement about the report.  Let's look at the rest of the sentence: ...and describes it as a major feature of the war.  Here, the subject is still the IRC, but it is not making a statement, it is "describing" the rapes.  The last sentence is similar: It is often committed in front of family members, the agency says.  Although the agency could have said this directly, more than likely, they issued a more detailed and complex report, so the BBC is just summarizing.

In other words, "say" doesn't have to be literal.  It can mean a summarization of reported speech or a written report.

Shannon Cole
www.coleinstitute.com

English as a Second Language

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Shannon Cole

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I can answer questions related to learning the English and Spanish language.

Experience

I have taught ESL and Spanish since 1998 at the university and middle school levels. I am a native of the U.S., and have taught in both the U.S. and Mexico.

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I am owner and operator of www.coleinstitute.com, an online language school.

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Georgia TESOL in Action (1999)

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B.A. in Spanish; M.Ed. in Language Education

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I have clients worldwide, some who want their documents proofread, and others who take lessons with me through the Internet. Some work at high-profile companies and government organizations. Besides the U.S. and Mexico, my recent students come from South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Colombia, Russia, Italy, Paraguay, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

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