Syra Surda : a simple technique for forced indirect discourse

Syra, quae male audit, id quod medicus dīcit audīre nōn potest; itaque interrogat: “quid dīcit medicus?” Aemilia (in aurem Syrae): ‘Medicus puerum dormīre’ dīcit.”

So, in Chapter 11 of Familia Romana, Ørberg uses a simple but effective technique to introduce indirect speech (oratio obliqua, or as I prefer to teach them, clauses acting as nouns) to the learner. Syra can’t hear well, and so has to have the doctor’s comments repeated to her. This device or trope invites endless repetition, moving between direct and indirect speech.

The other week I inflicted the same technique on my Greek optatives class. As one of the optional uses for the optative is indirect speech in secondary sequence, you can generate infinite (though possible boring) content by taking any text, and fronting it with some kind of Greek equivalent, e.g. ἡ Σύρᾱ εἶπεν ὅτι…. You can do this transformation on direct speech in dialogues, of course, or even on a third person narrative, by reporting sentences as the speech of the author/narrator. You can even do this to textbook content, to keep it easy:

«ὁ Μῑ́νως οἰκεῖ ἐν τῇ Κρήτῃ· βασιλεὺς δέ ἐστι τῆς νήσου.»

τί εἶπεν ἡ Μυρρίνη;

ἡ Μυρρίνη εἶπεν ὅτι ὁ Μῑ́νως οἰκοίη ἐν τῇ Κρήτῃ, βασιλεὺς δὲ εἴη τῆς νήσου.

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