Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 22:45:55 -0500
From: "W. Randolph Beckford" beckford[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]DICKINSON.EDU
Subject: word choice

If anyone would like to answer the following question for me, I would
appreciate it. If not, please ignore or direct me to the proper forum.

I am a student tutoring ESL to a visiting Russian professor at my college.
Frequently confusing the senses of "say," "tell," and "speak" (because she
says that Russian has one word for all three), I tried to explain the
difference myself. However, although I could show her example sentences,
even my own logic told me that, like Russian, these verbs ought to be
synonyms in English, theoretically. For example, "The teacher says to
read chapter 6;" but NOT "The teacher speaks (tells) to read chapter 6."
I realize that this probably has to do with a transitive/intransitive
difference, but could someone explain it clearly in this instance?

Although I may just be experiencing a "mind fart," thank you very much!

Randy Beckford
Writing Center Consultant
Dickinson College
Carlisle, PA


Si futurum est, fiet.