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  1. #11
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Whitehead View Post
    I say it is colloquial because I have never actually heard anybody say it, though I have heard 1970s teenagers say 'the car drives well' so I put it in the same category.

    Google:
    Results 1 - 10 of about 19,100 for "book reads well"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,060 for "text reads well"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,100 for "story reads well"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 301 for "play reads well"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 121 for "script reads well"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 9,570 for "book read well"

    This suggests that the usage is fairly widespread. Also, if you try some of the searches, you will see that many of them are from Amazon reviews, so many people feel that the usage is appropriate for such contexts.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew
    Mediopassive. You may be right, and I am not confident enough to say you are wrong.
    Claudia Haase on Middle Constructions in English (2000) explains:

    1.1 What are middles?
    The best way to explain middles is perhaps to give some designations and then some examples for middle constructions. Nesfield said 1898 that middles are “active in form but passive in meaning“. Jesperson calls them “activo-passive“ (as do Bresnan 1982b and Levin 1982).
    As well used are the terms “middle voice“ (e.g. Andrews 1982), “middle“(e.g. Bresnan 1982a), and “mediopassive“(e.g.Bresnan 1982c). Brown and Miller mention the terms “pseudo- intransitive” or “patient- subject construction”. There also exist the term “promotion to subject”, which describes the shift of grammatical functions from active to a middle sentence. The most common expression is “middle”, ....
    1.2 Examples
    (1) Mary washes the woolens well. active
    (1a) The woolens are washed well (by Mary). passive
    (1b) The woolens wash well. middle
    (2) Hugo sells sports cars quickly. active
    (2a) The sports cars are sold quickly (by Hugo). passive
    (2b) Sports cars sell quickly. middle
    In middles the change of the subject-object focus is the same as in passive (compare 1a-1b, 2a-2b). Only there is no change in verbal morphology. The verb remains active. Instead, middle constructions need markers like adverbs or modals,....
    1.3 General characteristics
    In middles not the subject plays the responsible role for the action, but in middles the grammatical function of the subject is in some kind generalised.
    E.g. Sports cars sell quickly means that people in general like to buy them. This fabric washes easily means the same as This fabric is easily washable or People in general can wash this fabric easily.4 When a non- subject role is promoted to subject the original subject is lost.
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew
    'The book reads well' is sometimes given as an example of mediopassive, on Wikipedia for instance, but I have a bit of trouble with the idea of 'read' having a stative meaning because...
    First, what about stative, the book is readable? Second, couldn't the phrase 'has stative meaning' (See SIL) mean stative like? With mediopassive constructs the patient holds the subject position. There isn't an actor.

    With regard to the mediopassive voice in Modern English, there's a paper called "Curtains like these are selling right in the city of Chicago for $1.50" – The mediopassive in American 20th-century advertising language by Marianne Hundt. Tdol's finds relate to advertising as well. Amazon advertises well.

    All the best.

  3. #13
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Google:
    Results 1 - 10 of about 19,100 for "book reads well"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,060 for "text reads well"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,100 for "story reads well"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 301 for "play reads well"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 121 for "script reads well"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 9,570 for "book read well"

    This suggests that the usage is fairly widespread. Also, if you try some of the searches, you will see that many of them are from Amazon reviews, so many people feel that the usage is appropriate for such contexts.

    Links trading is a futile excercise, but to put a perspective on it I get 1,190, 000 hits if I Google my own name, which would suggest that the world talks about me more than it talks about "the book reads well"...

    To be more specific, counting Google hits is as a measure of use is about as unscientific as you can get. Many links are multiple references to the same phrase - something that is fairly obvious if you use Google Preview.

    How many documents are there on the web? 19, 100 of them mentioning "the book reads well" is a very small percentage. Compare this with

    "a good book" 456,000,000 hits
    "a good book to read" 330,000,000 hits
    "a well written book" 102,000,000 hits

    These phrases are obviously far, far more common than 'the book reads well', not just slightly more common but by several orders of magnitude - to be precise "a good book" is used 24,000 times more often than 'the book reads well"! Such a huge difference cancels fudging by multiple references, and shows that it is a little used colloquialism. Wikipedia supports this view, describing mediopassive as:-

    "... hardly ever used in English with the active voice or passive."

  4. #14
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Hi,
    I think mine is a related question – can flood be intransitive?
    1.The sink flooded.
    2.The sink was flooded.

    Thanks.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Humble View Post
    Hi,
    I think mine is a related question – can flood be intransitive?
    1.The sink flooded.
    2.The sink was flooded.
    Thanks.
    Yes. See flood definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta and http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/fr...hout-been.html.

  6. #16
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Cassi... sorry missed your post!


    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Second, couldn't the phrase 'has stative meaning' (See SIL) mean stative like? With mediopassive constructs the patient holds the subject position. There isn't an actor.
    The point is that, as far as I can see, you can't even be stative-like with 'reads'. Reads is something you do, something interactive, something that requires a mind and comprehension. In short, 'reads' is always an action, and needs a subject to perform it - 'reads' has to be done. It it is not a happening (for want of a better term!) in the way that 'wash', for example, can be.

  7. #17
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Thanks, Cas.

  8. #18
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Whitehead View Post
    In short, 'reads' is always an action, and needs a subject to perform it - 'reads' has to be done.
    The actor is left unstated, but it is there:

    Mediopassive
    Ex: This bread cuts easily (for me) ~ It can be cut ~ It's cutable.
    Ex: This book reads well (for me) ~ It can be read ~ It's readable.



    Thomas Stroik on 'Middles and Reflexivity' in Linguistic Inquiry (MIT Press Journals, Winter 1999, Vol. 30, No. 1, Pages 119-131) proposes,
    "middle verbs, like passive verbs, project the external (Agent) arguments of their active counterparts as adjuncts. These demoted Agent arguments can appear, in middle constructions, as the objects of for-PPs."
    In sum, This book reads well (for me) ~ It can be read (by me) ~ It's readable (for me).

    Quick note, I don't get how 'wash' is 'a happening' and 'read' is not. I get the coined noun phase 'a happening'; I don't get how 'wash' is different from 'read' here:

    The book washes well ~ It's washable.
    The book reads well ~ It's readable.

    All the best.

  9. #19
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Humble View Post
    Thanks, Cas.
    You're welcome, but...I thought you might have at least one question after having read the information on both those sites. I know I do.

  10. #20
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Thanks a lot!

    In Czech, there is also some kind of middle verbs (I am not sure whether I can all it like this, but I believe it is probably right.) - I have read the definitions and Spanish examples at (or ON?) Wikipedia. This is what Czech and Spanish (and many other languages) have in common - we just use a reflexive pronoun "se".

    However, I believe that if a Czech English teacher (a teacher of English, native Czech) told me to translate a Czech sentence with a middle verb (e.g. auta se prodávají dobře (jednoduše) - cars sell easily) into English and I answered "cars sell easily", it would be considered incorrect, although it may be perfectly correct.

    I know I a very nice, "tricky" brain-teaser:
    (in Czech)
    Může se ještěrka nazvat plazem?
    - Ne, protože neumí mluvit.

    The point is that the verb "nazývat se" can both mean "to be called" and "to call itself" (because "se" is a reflexive pronoun - as "se" in Spanish)

    Can a lizard be called/call itself a reptile?
    - No, (it can't), because it can't speak.

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    You're welcome, but...I thought you might have at least one question after having read the information on both those sites. I know I do.
    I don't understand when should I use both with "of". Would "on both OF those sites" be considered incorrect?

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