It is not always clear what counts as a good middle sentence in English.
Whereas examples like 'This book reads well' or 'Roald Dahl translates easily'
seem to be readily acceptable, the same cannot be said of others like 'This
book reads' or 'French acquires easily'. This book offers a comprehensive
account of the English middle construction and the restrictions on its
Based on a careful analysis of the semantic idiosyncrasy and the
grammatical properties of the construction, the author investigates the
manner in which middles are spreading and shows that not all new middles
exhibit the same degree of acceptability. A number of constraints are
identified as being responsible for this gradience. The extent to which each of
them affects middle acceptability and the way in which they interact with one
another is investigated, leading to an amendment of some of the existing
proposals regarding the issue of what a middle sentence can or cannot be.
The analysis relies on a substantial amount of data obtained by eliciting
acceptability judgements from native speakers, on a theory of gradient
acceptability, and on a consideration of aspects of language use and
sentence-processing, and not of language-internal aspects only.