言っていた and 言った

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Jan 23, 2012 23:12 Japanese_language 「いた」 「ている」
~している and not that is one of the difficult items to explain in Japanese. I came across an interesting example. (I maybe wrote the same example before…)

父からの電話に出たら,いますぐ帰らなければならないと言っていた。(a)
父からの電話に出たら,いますぐ帰らなければならないと言った。(b)

I feel there is a big difference between them; the actor of the second half of (a) is “I”, while that of (b) is “he”. Accordingly, the first one means “I got the phone from my father, and I heard him saying he had to return home immediately.” The second one means “…, and he said that he had to return …”

The evidence is that (b) is a bit unnatural unless it is like the following:
父からの電話に出たら,父はいますぐ帰らなければならないと言った。(b2)
Further, the following is even more natural.
私が父からの電話に出たら,父はいますぐ帰らなければならないと言った。(b3)
By contrast, (a) is still natural as it is. Of course, you can write as follows:
父からの電話に出たら,父はいますぐ帰らなければならないと言っていた。(a2)
However, that is not necessary.

This suggests that 言っていた is a kind of subjective report by a narrator, while 言った is literally to have said.
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