Page 3 of 10 FirstFirst 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... LastLast
Results 21 to 30 of 95
  1. #21
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    863
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    By the way, what is the difference between a middle and an ergative verb?

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    260
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by casiopea
    The actor is left unstated, but it is there:
    In "the clothes wash well" there is a syntactical link between 'clothes' and 'wash' - 'wash' happens to the clothes.

    In "the glass breaks easily" there is a syntactical link between 'glass' and 'breaks' - 'break' happens to the glass

    In "the book reads well' there is no syntactical link between 'book' and 'reads' - reads doesn't happen to the book, it is performed by an actor. 'Read' requires an actor to be stated to form a coherent sentence.


    Quote Originally Posted by casiopea
    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:
    'Read' needs understanding. That means you have to have a mind present to do the understanding. Read can only be an action, performed by a thinking subject. IMO, read can't be stative, or even stative-like - a view supported by Dowty tests - and shouldn't be used in a mediopassive voice.

    'Wash' requires no understanding, no mind, no thinking subject. A mindless washing- machine can wash your clothes.

    Washing is something that happens to your clothes, breaking is something that happens to window for example, but reading is not something that happens to a book - the book doesn't change - it is something done by the reader.

    If you are wondering why this matters...

    "What happened to my blue shirt?" -> "Its in the wash!" - 'wash' describes the situation the shirt is in: it has a stative field of reference.
    "What happened to the glass?" -> "It broke!" - 'broke' describes the situation the glass is in: it has a stative field of reference.

    By comparison

    "What happened to the book?" -> "It reads!" - nonsense: it has no stative foeld of reference.
    "What happened to the book?" -> "its in the read!" - still nonsense: still no stative field of reference.
    Last edited by Andrew Whitehead; 12-Mar-2007 at 02:16.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    12,971
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    Can a lizard be called/call itself a reptile?
    - No, (it can't), because it can't speak.
    That was cute!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka
    I don't understand when should I use both with "of". Would "on both OF those sites" be considered incorrect?
    The preposition of is often omitted; e.g., on both (of) those sites.

    All the best.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    12,971
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Whitehead View Post
    In "the clothes wash well" there is a syntactical link between 'clothes' and 'wash' - 'wash' happens to the clothes.

    In "the glass breaks easily" there is a syntactical link between 'glass' and 'breaks' - 'break' happens to the glass

    In "the book reads well' there is no syntactical link between 'book' and 'reads' - reads doesn't happen to the book, it is performed by an actor.
    Very nice explanation. However, that is exactly how mediopassive verbs (not middle verbs) are described.

    Wash and break can be either middle or mediopassive, whereas read cannot. The latter two admit ambiguity, read does not:

    The clothes wash well.
    middle: they wash themselves
    mediopassive: they are washable

    The glass breaks well.
    middle: it breaks itself
    mediopassive: it is breakable

    The book reads well.
    middle: it reads itself
    mediopassive: it is readable

    In short, read is not a middle verb; it's mediopassive. It doesn't have a 'deep subject', whereas wash and break can in middle voice. We could, of course, interpret read as having a deep subject, but that would make it a middle voice verb, or rather a semantically awkward middle voice verb, as you well know.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    12,971
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    By the way, what is the difference between a middle and an ergative verb?
    In English,

    Ergative: This vase broke.
    Who or what broke the vase isn't important. What's important is the vase didn't break by itself. It required something or someone to break it.

    Middle: This vase breaks easily. <actually, not 'Middle' (although that term is used), but mediopassive>
    Who or what broke the vase isn't important. What's important is the vase is easily breakable.


    That's the short answer. For a longer answer click here.


    All the best.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    260
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Very nice explanation. However, that is exactly how mediopassive verbs (not middle verbs) are described.
    Oh...thank you... Is 'that' referring to 'with syntactical link' or to 'without syntactical link'?

    I think you are missing my point a little, as my issue is with the verb 'reads' specifically.

    As far as I am aware, a middle verb describes a quality of the preceding noun, and a mediopassive has a stative(or stative like) verb and an unexpressed actor.

    Transwicki:'a grammatical voice in which the actor of a stative verb is not expressed'

    Reads is a dynamic verb. It fails the Dowty tests, and since it describes a mental action I can't sensibly see even a 'stative-like' quality - in short, it is a purely dynamic verb.

    This appears important to me. If we are referencing a stative verb, or even a stative-like quality in a nominally dynamic verb, because we are talking about a state there is no need to mention an actor. This makes sense.

    On the other hand, if there is no stative-like reference, then we are definitely talking about an act and we must have a stated (or at least implied) actor, which excludes it from being used in a mediopassive.

    I believe this to be the situation with 'reads'.
    Last edited by Andrew Whitehead; 12-Mar-2007 at 14:50.

  7. #27
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    863
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    In English,

    Ergative: This vase broke.
    Who or what broke the vase isn't important. What's important is the vase didn't break by itself. It required something or someone to break it.

    Middle: This vase breaks easily. <actually, not 'Middle' (although that term is used), but mediopassive>
    Who or what broke the vase isn't important. What's important is the vase is easily breakable.


    That's the short answer. For a longer answer click here.


    All the best.
    Oh, thank you for the explanation, indeed! I am just wndering... what is the difference between a middle verb and a mediopassive? I thought it was the same.
    One might say I am going into too much detail about this (and it is probably the truth) but I am simply interested in it .

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    128
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    My thoughts:

    1. How many people setting out to learn English have a clue, or even need to have a clue, about what 'medopassive', 'ergative', or any other of the strange linguistic terms invented by academics, means? I've lived quite happily and very productively through two millennia without ever either coming across or needing to use such terms.

    2. If the person listening to what you say, or reading what you write, understands what you mean, it can't be wrong. Surely language is about getting your point across to others, not about how much your choice of style conforms to some unknown third party's ideas about 'correctness'.

    I once employed someone who was byslexic (pun intended) and his speling was not gud, but he never rote anything that couldn't be understood by anyone....was he wrong? ...or just a normal communicator?

    Who are the self-appointed judges who decide whether some particular use of English is acceptable? Why are they so often out of date with reality?

  9. #29
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    2,047
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    For some people, studying the complexity of human language usage is more fun than water skiing or digital home theater. True students of language (I fall far short of that class) know they cannot be rule-makers, but are content (or even ecstatic) just being observers and describers. Understanding human language is the key to understanding human thought. In that endeavor there can never be too much data.

    Does it matter how many zuegmas can dance on the head of a metonym? Maybe not, but if you do the research, I'll be interested to hear the answer.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    260
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: The book reads well.

    How many people setting out to learn English have a clue, or even need to have a clue, about what 'medopassive', 'ergative', or any other of the strange linguistic terms invented by academics, means?
    People 'setting out' don't need to know. People who want a deep understanding of how grammar works do need to know them.


    I've lived quite happily and very productively through two millennia without ever either coming across or needing to use such terms.
    I will probably get through my entire life in complete ignorance of many legal and surgical terms, but if I wanted to be a lawyer or a surgeon I would need to know them.

    If you, personally, have no interest in grammar then you don't need to know what mediopassive or ergative verbs are, but what makes you think that you are in a position to criticise others who have more interest than yourself, and do want to learn?


    I've lived quite happily and very productively through two millennia without ever either coming across or needing to use such terms.
    This is an example of why grammar rules are needed: this sentence means you are several thousand years old...


    If the person listening to what you say, or reading what you write, understands what you mean, it can't be wrong.
    How do you know they understand? They may think they understand and even nod in agreement, but what they think you said and what you think you said can be two very different things.


    Surely language is about getting your point across to others, not about how much your choice of style conforms to some unknown third party's ideas about 'correctness'.
    One of the strengths of English is that it can be understood even when the grammar is mangled, but only as long as you stick to basic communication.

    "Yesterday, I go shop" is as understandable as "Yesterday I went shopping."

    If you want to convey only simple concepts you can get along by speaking bad English. If you want to convey more complicated ideas, where 'getting your point across' is not enough - you need to get it across clearly, precisely, and without ambiguity - then you need to learn the grammar. "He has learned to type" does not mean the same as "He learned to type".

    The same argument you put forward here could be applied to any form of regulation.

    " Surely driving is about getting from one place to another, not about how much your driving style conforms to some unknown third party's ideas about 'correctness'."

    Should we abandon driving regulations? The logical flaw in this is that we drive safely, and communicate effectively, because we have regulations, and conform to a common idea of correctness.

    You are making the mistake of viewing language as an isolated activity. It isn't, it is a social activity that only works if we all agree on what is correct and what isn't. To do that we need grammar rules that are written down and accessible to all. How is someone in Nigeria going to communicate effectively with someone in Canada if they start inventing their own local standards of correctness?

    If you doubt this, then try to find an example of misunderstood communication that doesn't have a grammar mistake in it.

Page 3 of 10 FirstFirst 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. mini book report needs to be edit please
    By tofu in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-Jan-2009, 21:45
  2. Whose is this book vs. Whos book is this
    By babyblue in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 04-Nov-2005, 06:32
  3. Children's Book
    By love-lee in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 23-Sep-2005, 16:02
  4. What can I change with my book review?
    By kamel in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 24-Jan-2005, 21:34

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •