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On Thu, 23 Nov 2006 20:51:00 -0800, Jens Wilkinson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>--- Rex May <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>>
>> go kanfey.  I am literate. (I read-can)
>> to hon bekanfey.  The book is legible. (be-read-can)
>
>Actually, this may sound heretical in the world of
>language design, where people like to be precise, but
>my own opinion is that those two words could really be
>the same.
>
>I can read.
>That book can read.
>
>In the second case, there's probably a missing
>subject, like:
>That book (people) can read.
>
>In the overwhelming majority of cases, it's perfectly
>clear from the context which of the two meanings is
>referred to. In Japanese, incidentally, the word for
>"can eat" and "is edible" are the same (taberareru).
>
>The only time is would be ambiguous is a situation
>where something is both potentially the actor and
>patient, like if you speak about a lion or fish or
>something. Kind of like the ambiguous sentence in
>English:
>
>The missionaries are ready to eat.
>
>But in practice, those sentences don't pose problems,
>due to the context in which they occur. People might
>make a general statement like "cow can eat" meaning a
>cow can be eaten, but nobody says "cow can eat" in the
>sense that cows are capable of eating, because it
>would be silly to believe the opposite. If you say
>"that cow lost all its teeth, and no can eat," I would
>imagine the person wanted to say it was incapable of
>eating, not of being eaten. Though in that case, it
>could I suppose mean the other one. For some reason,
>not having teeth is symptomatic of some underlying
>health problem that makes it inedible or something
>like that.
>

Not heretical to me.  In my South Midlands dialect,
it's common to say "That corn eats good," or "The
lawn mows easy."