In English there are many verbs that follow that behavior (at least in the perspective of native Portuguese-speakers):
"It smells good."
I smell it, and it has a good smell. -- Although, exceptionally in this case, the Portuguese statement "Isto cheira bem." ["bem" is the adverb "well" instead of the adjective "good" ("bom")] would be comprehensible and usual as well.
"It feels strange."
I feel that it is strange.
"It looks good.
I look at it and it seems good. / It has a good appearance.
"I taste the food." X "The food tastes delicious."
In Portuguese: "Eu experimento o gosto da comida." ["I experience the taste of the food"] X "A comida tem um gosto delicioso." ["The food has a delicious taste"]. There is no equivalent verb in Portuguese for "to taste".
"I turned it blue." X "It turned blue."
In Portuguese, "It turned blue." would be "Ele tornou-se azul." ["It turned itself blue." / "It became blue."] or (less usual but comprehensible) "Ele foi tornado azul." ["It was turned blue (by someone unspecified)."].
This example reminds me of something unrelated to this discussion, but interesting nevertheless.
Let Y be a verb and X be the subject of Y. The following pattern occurs in Portuguese: "Y itself X" (usual) = "X Y itself" (unusual) = "X is Yed [by someone unspecified]" (unusual) = "We Y X" (with the use of "generic we" -- usual).
So, in Portuguese, "Vendem-se bicicletas." ["Sell themselves bikes."] is the same as the statements "Bicicletas vendem-se" ["Bikes sell themselves"] and "Bicicletas são vendidas." ["Bikes are sold."] and the statement "Vendemos bicicletas" ["We sell bikes."].
Another example: "Consertam-se relógios por um preço baixo." ["Fix themselves watches by a low cost."] = "Relógios consertam-se por um preço baixo." ["Watches fix themselves by a low cost."] = "Relógios são consertados por um preço baixo." ["Watches are fixed by a low cost."] = "Consertamos relógios por um preço baixo." ["We fix watches by a low cost."]. Of course, "we" in the latter statement has a generic meaning, and can even mean only one person.
Realize that many (all?) of the previous examples contain statements with linking verbs.
"I freeze the water" X "The water freezes."
The reflexive pronoun is often used in Portuguese for specifying
actions that are not necessarily reflexive and the statements do not have
an explicit subject. In this case, the object of the action becomes the grammatical subject. However, sometimes the reflexive pronoun is ommitted, specially in the spoken form of Portuguese.
The second statement in Portuguese would be something like "The water freezes itself." (even if the action is not necessarily reflexive) or "The water is frozen.".
In spoken Brazilian Portuguese, however, the use of "The water freezes." without the reflexive pronoun has been increasing (and this is also true for the forthcoming examples).
"I fry an egg." X "The egg fries."
The same as above.
"He sinks the boat." X "The boat sinks."
The same as above.
"She turns the computer on." X "The computer turns on."
The same as above.
"I rented a house."
Does it mean that you rented a house FROM someone, or that you had a
lot of houses and you rented one of them FOR someone? This is
disambiguated only by pragmatics and by the context. And what does "The house is rented by me." means?
This verb also exists in Portuguese with a similar sense ["alugar"],
and in the case of Portuguese it can get confusing at times.
"I grow the flower." X "The flower grows quickly."
In the first case, we would use the verb "cultivar" ["Eu cultivo a
flor."], while in the second case we would use the verb "crescer" ["A
flor cresce rapidamente."].
The statement "A flor cultiva-se rapidamente" [The flower grows itself
quickly."], with the verb "cultivar", would be unusual in Portuguese,
but it would be understood.
In Brazilian Portuguese, A "compreensível" text is a comprehensible text, that is, a text that <can be comprehended> (understood). But a "compreensível" person is a person that <can comprehend> and can accept the reasons of why someone else cannot do something s/he would like to be done.
People sometimes use jokingly "Eu estou comido" ("I am eaten") in the sense of "Eu já comi" ("I have [already] eaten"). It is worth it to note that the verb "comer" is also a sexual slang in Brazil, which means "to be the penetrator in a sexual intercourse". So, "Eu estou comido" would also mean "I was penetrated in a sexual intercourse.". An unusual statement, given that in the Brazilian culture most heterosexual male guys get offended by being accused of "homosexual behavior", and that statement looks like a "self-accusation".
Antonielly Garcia Rodrigues
On 11/24/06, Rex May <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:
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
>I can read.
>That book can read.
>In the second case, there's probably a missing
>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
>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
Not heretical to me. In my South Midlands dialect,
it's common to say "That corn eats good," or "The
lawn mows easy."