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  1. #41
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Food, film, and job are inanimate; they cannot like, enjoy, or hate
    That is one reason why I chose them, because that is exactly what I am saying about read. The book too is inanimate and cannot read.

    If it is acceptable for an unseen actor to do the reading, can't an unseen actor also do the liking, enjoying, and hating?


    In mediopassive voice it's the object that's promoted, not the subject. In other words, promote the object ball and the result is a mediopassive-voice reading. (Note, the symbol ? means semantically awkward):
    This is the other reason for my choice of examples In your previous post you said it didn't matter because (according to Fagan) "the verb read in English is lexically derived (See bottom of page 58 and top of page 59 here.)" to avoid the semantic awkwardness of 'reads'.

    If that is true for 'reads' is must also be true for like, enjoy, hate, or any other mental activity. There is no semantic problem with inanimate objects that can't do any of these things, because the verb is purely lexical.


    In mediopassive voice it's the object that's promoted, not the subject.
    Why can't the dog be the object being caught? 'Catch' acts on the dog, so the dog is the object of the unstated actor catching it. It looks awkward I agree - but it is meant to.


    the book is experienced by an agent left unstated.
    In my examples, the food is experienced by an agent left unstated, and so are the film, and the job. They are liked, enjoyed, and hated by unstated actors in the same way that the book is read by an an unstated actor.

    I suspect that what is happening here is that you have seen 'the book reads well/easily' so often that you accept 'read' as a state, and as something that happens to the book.

    Nothing happens to the book, which is why it is not the same as 'clothes wash easily' or 'glass breaks easily' where the clothes and the glass receive an action.

    As mediopassive is essentially a passive voice this is important - an action has to be recieved for it to be passive. Something has to happen to the object.


    Mediopassive: ?The vegetables hate easily. <Awkward because the vegetables are the ones doing the hating.>
    How does that differ from "the book reads well"? You seem to be saying that it doesn't work because someone has to do the hating. That is true because 'hate' is a mental activity - and so is 'read'. Someone has to do the reading - but this doesn't matter in mediopassive because the unstated actor does it.

    You seem to be switching mediopassive and middle at random...


    On a general note, you are going to great lengths to explain mediopassive, but my objection is with 'read' (or any other mental/sensory verb) not with the existence of mediopassive.

  2. #42
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Both of you are linguistic experts!!
    I have read all of your replies.
    I admit that most of them are too hard for me.
    But it helps a lot.

    I'm going to read agian and again until it is clear to me.

    Bye~

  3. #43
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    "Like, enjoy, hate..." are, perhaps, not the best verbs to compare with "read", as read is an activity you have to make an effort for: You can say: "I'll read the book at five o'clock." You can't really say: "I'll hate you at five o'clock".

    How about comparing:

    1.a This sentence is strange to read.
    1.b This sentence reads strangely.

    2.a This puzzle is hard to solve.
    2.b This puzzle solves hard.

    I have no objection to 1.b whatsoever. 2.b sounds strange to me, though. Why is that?

    ***

    Btw:
    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea

    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
    Would it be interesting to point out that the German version of "The book reads well," is, in fact, syntactically reflexive: "Das Buch liest sich gut" (Literally: "The book reads self well.") Now, I'm a native speaker of German, but I don't see any semantic reflexivity hear. The book doesn't read itself. The clothes wash well, would be rendered in the same way ("Die Kleidung wäscht sich gut.") Interestingly, "Glass breaks easily" takes a different pattern: "Glas (zer)bricht leicht."

    How languages organise their syntax varies. The above distinction seems to be modelled on classical grammars (middle voice exists in Classical Greek, let's apply it to English). Not all grammatical terms transfer equally well (<- look a middle voice!), though.

  4. #44
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Whitehead View Post
    That is one reason why I chose them, because that is exactly what I am saying about read. The book too is inanimate and cannot read.
    Yes, I see that; however, the semantics of the structural subject (i.e., film, food, book), although important, are secondary to the issue at hand. The primary issue here is this. The verbs like, enjoy, and hate are different from the verb read in these ways:

    1) read is not a stative verb; like and enjoy are stative verbs.
    2) read does not subcategorize for a doer as subject; hate does.
    3) read can be passive, like and enjoy cannot be.

    A verb's category (i.e., transitive, intransitive, di-transitive, linking) and what it subcategorizes for (i.e., thematic roles) are separate from Voice (active, passive, middle, and mediopassive), and yet your examples marry the three. Like, enjoy, hate, and read are verbs, but there's more to them than that category heading. They are not the same.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew
    If it is acceptable for an unseen actor to do the reading, can't an unseen actor also do the liking, enjoying, and hating?
    That's another way of saying why isn't passive "The food is enjoyed (by us)" grammatical? Not all verbs can undergo the passive, especially stative verbs, and yet you use stative verbs in your examples. Note that, a mediopassive verb get its name from the very fact that it is between active and "passive". It has both active and passive qualities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andew
    This is the other reason for my choice of examples In your previous post you said it didn't matter because (according to Fagan) "the verb read in English is lexically derived (See bottom of page 58 and top of page 59 here)".
    Lexically derived as opposed to movement (i.e., transformation). That like and enjoy are stative and that hate subcategorizes for a doer as subject is information that's housed within each verb's lexical make up. A verb carries its information with it into the syntax. That information is part of the verb. It is not derived via structure (i.e., movement), as is, say, passive and mediopassive voice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew
    If that is true for 'reads' is must also be true for like, enjoy, hate, or any other mental activity. There is no semantic problem with inanimate objects that can't do any of these things, because the verb is purely lexical.
    Apparently you have a different definition of "lexically derived". What does it mean to you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew
    Why can't the dog be the object being caught? 'Catch' acts on the dog, so the dog is the object of the unstated actor catching it. It looks awkward I agree - but it is meant to.
    It's not awkward at all, at least to me. You see, you just explained the mediopassive.

    MedioP: The dog catches easily.
    => Meaning, people, in general, can catch the dog easily.
    (It's a slow dog. )

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew
    In my examples, the food is experienced by an agent left unstated,...
    Verbs that subcategorize for an experiencer are the first ones I'd check, too, if I were looking at how mediopassive voice works. However, I wouldn't start with stative verbs. You see, they're not compatible with passive voice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew
    I suspect that what is happening here is that you have seen 'the book reads well/easily' so often that you accept 'read' as a state, and as something that happens to the book.
    I haven't seen or heard mediopassive verbs all that often, and the contexts in which they do pop up, especially read, are in some way or another related to advertising. (By the way, opportunity and exposure work the other way, too. It could be said that those who find mediopassive verbs awkward haven't had opportunity or exposure enough to get a handle on their semantics. I, for one, wouldn't use that argument, though, because the underlying assumption there is that mediopassive read is contrived, and as of yet, no one has offered evidence, substantial or otherwise that speakers don't know how to process the semantics of mediopassive read. That verb is different from break and wash, in that it is not privy to both middle and mediopassive constructs, but to say that it's contrived, well...prove it.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew
    Nothing happens to the book, which is why it is not the same as 'clothes wash easily' or 'glass breaks easily' where the clothes and the glass receive an action.
    So, what you're saying is that the book doesn't undergo a visable change, right? OK. Let's change the object. What about, Faces read well, especially to visually impaired people. Consider this. When clothes are washed, they don't change form, but an agent (water) acts upon them. When a face is read, it doesn't change form; an agent (hands) acts upon it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew
    As mediopassive is essentially a passive voice this is important - an action has to be recieved for it to be passive. Something has to happen to the object.
    First, you seem to be aware that mediopassive has passive like qualities, and yet you chose stative verbs as examples of mediopassive voice. Why? I am missing something. Second, given Her face was read (passive), nothing 'happens' to the structural subject/semantic object.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew
    [?The vegetables hate easily] How does that differ from "the book reads well"? You seem to be saying that it doesn't work because someone has to do the hating.
    Not 'seem to be saying' but saying. You can't get a mediopassive reading from ?The vegetables hate easily. That's the semantics of hate, not the semantics of the mediopassive. Again, lexical meaning and structural meaning are different. One is housed within the verb itself (i.e., transitivity, dynamic, stative, roles), the other is derived via structure (i.e., passive, mediopassive).
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew
    That is true because 'hate' is a mental activity - and so is 'read'. Someone has to do the reading - but this doesn't matter in mediopassive because the unstated actor does it.
    With the example, Her face reads well the structural subject Her hands do the reading, like water does the clothes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew
    You seem to be switching mediopassive and middle at random...
    Please, point out where - so that I can address it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew
    On a general note, you are going to great lengths to explain mediopassive, but my objection is with 'read' (or any other mental/sensory verb) not with the existence of mediopassive.
    OK. What other verbs are there like read that we can compare and contrast?
    Last edited by Casiopea; 17-Mar-2007 at 14:22.

  5. #45
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Welcome, to the discussion, Dawnstorm.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
    How about comparing:

    1.a This sentence is strange to read.
    1.b This sentence reads strangely.

    2.a This puzzle is hard to solve.
    2.b This puzzle solves hard.

    I have no objection to 1.b whatsoever. 2.b sounds strange to me, though. Why is that?
    The choice of adverb, most likely.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    Would it be interesting to point out that the German version of "The book reads well," is, in fact, syntactically reflexive: "Das Buch liest sich gut" (Literally: "The book reads self well.")
    Here's something that might interest you (and others): Middles in German

    All the best.

  6. #46
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by siruss View Post
    I admit that most of them are too hard for me.
    But it helps a lot.

    I'm going to read agian and again until it is clear to me.

    Bye~
    I'll try to make it easier for you next time I post. If you have any questions, let us know. Join our discussion, siruss.

  7. #47
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    I'll try to make it easier for you next time I post. If you have any questions, let us know. Join our discussion, siruss.
    No, thank you. I don't have any knowledge on this issue.
    I thought "The book reads well." was right just because my grammar book said so. ( There was not enough explanation about this issue. It just said the sentence can be used.)
    So, I just memorized the sentence.

    But after reading your debate on the matter, I've learned a lot.

    Thanks a lot!
    Last edited by siruss; 16-Mar-2007 at 19:43.

  8. #48
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by casiopea
    1) read is not a stative verb; like and enjoy are stative verbs.
    Why is that a problem? From your earlier post...
    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Mediopassive voice is a passive voice in which the

    * verb has stative meaning, and
    * actor is not expressed.
    If anything, that should mean that like and enjoy can be used in mediopassive, but read can't be...

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    2) read does not subcategorize for a doer as subject;hate does.
    How do they differ, exactly? They are both mental activities, and both need a doer.


    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    3) read can be passive, like and enjoy cannot be.
    The teacher was liked by the students
    The show was enjoyed by all.

    Check your Swan PEU, 412

    "verbs that refer to wanting, liking, and similar ideas cannot usually be used in passive structures with following infinitives."

    Like and enjoy may be unusual as passive, but it is not forbidden. The only verbs that cannot be passive are intransitive such as 'read' when used to mean "the ability to read" - in "the boy reads well" for example.


    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Like, enjoy, hate, and read are verbs, but there's more to them than that category heading. They are not the same.
    No they are not. Nor, as I keep saying, are read, wash, and break.


    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Apparently you have a different definition of "lexically derived". What does it mean to you?
    "Obtained from vocabulary", the meaning is derived from common usage. Similar to "lexical meaning" in which the sentence is ignored.


    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    It's not awkward at all, at least to me. You see, you just explained the mediopassive.
    I have no problem with mediopassive, only with reads in the mediopassive. From my last post:-

    "On a general note, you are going to great lengths to explain mediopassive, but my objection is with 'read' (or any other mental/sensory verb) not with the existence of mediopassive."

    [QUOTE+Casiopea]On a general note, you are going to great lengths to explain mediopassive, but my objection is with 'read' (or any other mental/sensory verb) not with the existence of mediopassive.[/QUOTE]


    Quote Originally Posted by casiopea
    You see, they're not compatible with passive voice.
    Unusual Casi, but not incompatible.

    'Some 'stative' verbs - verbs which describe states rather than actions - are almost never found in the passive. Examples include lack, fit, resemble. You can't say Sports facilities are lacked by the University; you need to say The University lacks sports facilities. Not all stative verbs are like this, however: check in your dictionary if you're not sure.'

    This is a side issue though, as mediopassive requires a stative, as you said yourself.


    speakers don't know how to process the semantics of mediopassive read.
    People understand it, so that proves it is grammatically correct?


    So, what you're saying is that the book doesn't undergo a visable change, right?
    No, I am not saying that. I am saying that there is no 'act' on the book - no 'happening' - that the only 'act' is thought and this must occur in the actor. This shows that 'read' is 100% action. No stative reference at all, and should not be used in the mediopassive because mediopassive requires a stative reference.


    You can't get a mediopassive reading from ?The vegetables hate easily.
    I can't get one from 'the book reads easily' either, for exactly the reasons you state.


    Please, point out where - so that I can address it.
    You tell me to ignore semantics because the mediopassive reading of 'the book reads well" is lexically derived, and then object to my examples on semantic grounds.

  9. #49
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Like Siruss, I've found this thread very informative (and will also have to reread it).

    Two tangential points:

    1. Middle voice: I agree that it's better to reserve this term for the reflexive/self-advantageous voice that we find e.g. in Greek.

    2. "To read" in the sense "to bear reading", "to be readable" is recorded from 1668; in the sense, "to have a specified character when read", "to produce a certain impression on the reader", from 1731.

    Unfortunately my dictionary only gives one example:

    i) ...whose productions...read better than they act... (1789)

    But here are some characteristic literary instances:

    ii) This is typical: it reads like the germ of some kindly comedy. (Stevenson, in Memories and Portraits)

    iii) For although I must confess it reads very much like an application or a testimonial or some such thing as that, I can assure you I am writing this in fear and trembling with a sinking heart. (Wells, in Ann Veronica)

    iv) ...for the old gentleman's speech, considered as a lecture on pharmacy, is highly absurd; but considered as a hoax on Anastasius, it reads excellently. (De Quincey, in the Opium Eater)

    v) This reads like the evasion of the national historians to disguise the fact discreditable to their hero. (Gibbon, in Decline & Fall)

    vi) It reads like a wild fancy sketch, but the evidence of many witnesses, and likewise that of the official records of Esmeralda District, is easily obtainable in proof that it is a true history. (Twain, in Roughing It)

    MrP

  10. #50
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    Default Re: The book reads well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Welcome, to the discussion, Dawnstorm.
    Thanks. :D

    The choice of adverb, most likely.
    Hmm, possible. What adverb would work better. ;)

    Here's something that might interest you (and others): Middles in German
    Interesting article. Thanks. I've skimmed it, and it seems sound. I'll go over it in more detail later.

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