"They are telling you."
It confused me too, so I googled, and find this answer in Quora helpful: https://www.quora.com/In-Turkish-when-and-why-do-you-use-beni-bana-or-seni-sana-instead-of-ben-or-sen
I'm back at this and more confused. In english, there aren't slight difference between tell and say, they are two completely different things. You can say things, or you can say things to someone. But you only really (except for a few exceptions) tell people things. So, are you saying that dimek and solemek are closer in turkish than say and tell are in english? The only way this sentence would translate with 'say' was if it was They are saying (something) to you. There needs to be the 'something', otherwise it is Telling you. Man this course is making me think more about English than anything else :)
Isn't crazy how much learning a non Indo-European language makes you think?
demek is normally used for direct speech and söylemek is often used for indirect speech, but there are a lot of blurred lines. The two are rather close.
And you are entirely right about the way "say" and "tell" work in English. You should come tell that to my students here! :D
interchangeable in some contexts.
- I said "hello" to her.: Ona "Merhaba" dedim. you cannot use söyledim here.
- I told her to come here: Ona buraya gelmesini söyledim. you cannot use dedim here. But you can say Ona dedim ki "buraya gel"
- I told this to her: Bunu ona ben dedim/söyledim. Both fine
After reading through the comments and a link, I'm still confused as to why this is a dative construction rather than accusative. Most comments explain the difference between accusative and dative, but don't explain WHY in this instance. For instance:
Seni istiyorum = I want you
This is considered accusative, but...
Sana diyorlar = they are telling you
As you have probably read in other comments, the accusative stands for the direct object and the dative for the indirect object.
In the English sentence "they are telling you", "you" is an indirect object; you can know it because you can transform this sentence to "they are telling [something] TO you" (which is not true, for example, with the sentence "*I want to you"). Since it is an indirect object, the dative is needed.
But keep in mind that some Turkish verbs are not used in the same way as their English equivalent, which means that, in some cases, you just have to learn by heart which case a verb requires ;)
17 October 2019 Regarding 'TELL' and 'SAY TO', accusative vs dative, - you say something TO someone (dative); but - you tell someone (to do/about) something (accusative) Eg. A said (to) B - dative A told B - there is no 'to' therefore accusative
I hope I have helped to clarify things a little bit rather than confused things further