Translation:Tom thought that she went to school.
I had the same question - this is actually explained in the Tips and Tricks for this section:
"There is no sequence of tenses in Russian whatsoever.
The information in a subordinate sentence is understood to be relative to the main clause:<pre>
Он сказа́л, что не зна́ет. = He said he didn't know.</pre>
So if the piece of information is simply about where things are or what someone does, use present tense in the subordinate clause."
Он сказал, что не знал. = He said he hadn't known. Он сказал, что не знает. = He said he didn't know. Strictly speaking, "He said he doesn't know" isn't correct English - see https://youtu.be/iFCaR0VGqqY?t=4m49s for an explanation. For better or worse, we often don't observe this 'sequences of tenses' rule in everyday English, which can cause confusion. In any case, the point here is that Russian does not have this sequence of tenses rule; "Он сказал, что не знает" is perfectly good Russian for reporting a quotation that used the present tense. So: "Он не знает." --> Он сказал, что он не знает. "Он не знал." --> Он сказал, что он не знал.
At 6:57 in that Youtube clip, he discusses, "He said that he wants us to submit our outlines tomorrow." This sounds equivalent to my case of "He said he doesn't know." "Wants" is present tense just like "doesn't" is present tense. You said it's not correct English but that's hard for me to believe.
So, the Russian, "Он сказал, что не знает" ....... Does it mean that he doesn't know today and never did, or that he used to know but doesn't know anymore, or that he didn't know before but now he might?
Yeah, 'immediate reporting' seems to be a different context, as that speaker mentioned. Since Duolingo never gives much context, it can be hard to know what English translation might be best. In any case, I understand Он сказал, что не знает as meaning that when he was speaking, he didn't know: he said "Я не знаю" or "Он не знает" and now we're reporting what he said; in Russian we use the same tense as in the original statement. We're not saying anything about whether he knows now, or not.
I kind of feel like though, "he said he doesn't know" is almost like the present-perfective, ie, it happend in the past ("he said") but it still has an impact on the present ("he still doesn't know" AND whether or not he knows is important to the speaker). "He said he didn't know" seems to be less nuanced and can mean more things based on context (simple past, present-perfective, etc). That's just my initial reaction as a native American-English speaker though.
Strictly speaking, "He said he doesn't know" IS correct English. The video you posted is really thorough, but is missing something important. If what has been said is A) still true at the time of speaking, or B) something general or factual that the speaker agrees with, then the backshift is optional and sometimes not even preferable.
Consider: In school, our teachers told us that the sky is blue and the world is round.
It wouldn't sound natural or even academic to say that our teachers told us the sky WAS blue and world WAS round.
-----------EDIT----------- Oops, my bad. That rule is in there :$ Sorry about that.
Thanks Rachel! But if I focus on Russian, I keep in doubt. I can only understand “Они не говорили, где живут” as past (говорили) and present (живут), which is fine, it is usual in both Portuguese and English. The problem is that I can't understand this strong rule of "no sequence of tenses", this can be very misleading for me to try to create my own natural and fast interpretation, I mean more focused on meaning than on rules that (still) don't make sense.
Yes, the very same example is handy. "Они не говорили, где живут". I would not know whether it means "They didn't say where they live (now)" or "They didn't say where they lived (then)". Maybe the whole context will bridge the gap. Anyway I wish I had never come across this rule, and I will try to validade it elsewhere.
Yes, it's weird for me, too - especially in cases where I want to sound polite and say something like "I was wondering if..." or "I wanted to ask you..." (as opposed to the overly direct in English "I want to ask you...") I'd be surprised if it's also necessary in Russian to backshift for politeness.
I've made this specific complaint before, about this specific word, and on different sentences. I've never gotten any useful response from DL. I'm suspicious that the fast and slow recordings that they put in the lesson can differ from the recording that shows up here. I just listened to the recording on this page and the pronunciation of она here sounds pretty good, although it would be better if they would slow it down a little and carefully emphasize the word-stress for the benefit of students.
Both meanings can be implied, although not "on a particular day" (this would be "она (была) в школе") but within some period of time:
Том думал, что она ходит в школу. However, her teacher called Tom yesterday and informed that they had not seen his daughter in the school for a week.
I don't think so.
In general, to say "она ходит в школу" means that she is a student, she attends school.
At the same time, you can narrow the meaning. If she is sick, she can miss school for some time. You can say then that "она болеет и не ходит в школу", though she is still a student.
Therefore, the original sentence about Tom can have both of these meanings. Tom thought that she was a student, but she was not (e.g. she graduated). Or, Tom knew she was a student, he thought that she visited her school for some unmentioned period of time (i.e. every day, this month, etc.), but she missed her classes actually.
Does "she has gone to school" mean she left her home with intention to reach her school? This would be "ушла в школу".
In English we can say, "Tom thought she goes to school" or "Tom thought she is going to school," to mean that Tom assumed she was a student. These English sentences would be literal translations of this Russian. Would this meaning, of these English sentences, correspond to the meaning of this Russian sentence?
Choice of aspect is really sensitive to context, which is often absent in these isolated sentences. I think there will be many times when Duolingo won't be the best tool for teaching or learning aspect, so just be patient & ask! :) I would say Том думал.. could be either 'Tom thought' or 'Tom was thinking,' as well as what alexm768 suggests.
Pronunciation question: Would it sound exactly the same (though I know it makes no sense at all) to say "том думал, что находит в школу" in natural speech?
That is, I want to know if in natural speech vowel sounds merge into each other when they are the same and right next to each other in the sentence.
I doubt it might sound indentical in natural speech, though you may confuse the two in a very noisy environment. The difference is, the vowels represented by О in что and она usually sound different, and even if they sound the same for some reason, you are still left with double the vowel length and the weird stress pattern (она might lose a bit of emphasis—and still, the pitch contour can only by accident match what you'd expect of находит)
Wow, I really appreciate this community. You guys are always so on top of things. Thank you!
This transition (/ɔ̝/ to /ɐ/) is hard for me to hear. Even if I say a sentence in English (at natural speed) like "The law on driving..." or something, the difference between that and "The lawn driving..." is only barely discernable (and just by vowel length, as you mentioned). I think I'd only know which was said because one of them doesn't make any sense.
(the pronunciation by the TTS is not quite representative of what it should be: что should not receive the emphasis here)
It is more like, there are many things wrong with ..то она хо.. being transformed into ..то нахо..
- Она is not a preposition, so на will get at least some kinf of stress. На in находит is the first unstressed syllable, so you expect to hear the unstressed "a" there.
- in Russian, the major pitch changes generally occur leading to and after the stressed syllable. It might happen that она is lower than ходит but it may also happen otherwise/ In the latter case the "находит" interpretation means you get a weird fall of pitch from на to хо.
- oftentimes что gets an audible О sound (not quite standard but still popular). It means that a transition from O to A is pretty audible, too.
- two vowels, at least one of which is not fully reduced, sound quite a bit longer than you would expect just one of them to sound.
Confusing the two is still possible if the speaker suddlenly breaks the rhythm, if you could not quite hear that "что она" part of if a person is just speaking very, very fast. Still, it is more like the difference between "The use began" and "The US began": under normal circumstances, the stress and the rhythm alone make them different.
"Tom thought that she went to school." is wrong here. What is meant is "Tom thought that she was going/had (already) gone to school" "Tom thought that she went to school" implies that he believed that she was in education generally. It seems quite often in Duo that the non-native English speakers have picked up the wrong tense because American English largely dispenses with the perfect, unlike British English where it is standard usage
Strictly speaking you can say that the translation implies Tom's belief. But I find it hard to believe that this was the meaning intended in the exercise. I think that there is an ongoing problem with translating to and from the English perfect in the Russian section. I have seen several times the imperfect used with "already", eg something like "He already ate the cake" which is simply wrong. I think that the Russian-speakers running the Russian course, which is great, and I have learnt a lot from it, need to heed what the native English speakers are saying about the correct use of tense in English, which is v tricky for non-natives, especially for those who speak a language where the imperfect/perfect distinction does not exist
Why the change in tense? "Tom thought that she goes to school." is good English and in keeping with the grammatical construction of the original. Otherwise, to correspond to the translation above, shouldn't the original be "... что она пошла ..." or "...шла...? Depending on the sense in which she is said to "go"," be going" , "was going " or "went".