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Re: NEWS.22: `allows' without an object

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: NEWS.22: `allows' without an object
Date: Tue, 29 May 2007 13:13:14 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/23.0.51 (gnu/linux)

"Robert J. Chassell" <address@hidden> writes:

> As Alan Mackenzie <address@hidden> says, "allow" needs a direct object, 
>    >     This version of `movemail' allows you to read mail from a wide range 
> of
>    >                                       ^^^
>    I think "allows reading mail" is also okay, and doesn't require "you".
> `Reading' serves (or maybe the object is the whole phrase, `reading
> mail' -- I don't know.)
> I did not know.  That explains a great deal.
> As Alan Mackenzie says, this instance needs `the person or thing being
> empowered'.  On its own, in English, the phrase `to read' fails.
> The English is confusing.  It may be that you can only comfortably
> learn this kind of construction when very young.
> You could write, `enables reading mail', too; that makes more sense.

Actually, I find that "enables" is suffering from a similar degree of
awkwardness.  I'd probably use "facilitates reading mail ..." instead:
this is an enabled-object-free verb, though a bit more pompous.  More
closely related to "allows" would be "permits reading"; this is
simpler than "facilitates", though, like "allows", slightly wrong as
this is not a question of permission.

> Before Eli Zaretskii made this observation, I had not noticed the
> distinction between gaining permission and gaining an ability, but
> it is there and important.  After all, we are not talking about
> humans getting permission from the `movemail' code, as `allow'
> suggests, but gaining from it the power to act.

I should read postings to their end before replying.  Saves time.

David Kastrup

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