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When referring to something you read on the internet, can you use "say?" For example, can you say, "he said it on a forum" when speaking about a message someone posted. Or does say only refer to spoken words?

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It says in the bible you can –  mgb Sep 10 '11 at 14:29
    
Not only "say", but you can use "hear" as well. –  xpda Sep 10 '11 at 23:51
    
We always knew that a book or a newspaper says things, so a web page is no different. –  GEdgar Sep 11 '11 at 0:04

3 Answers 3

This is commonly done. However, "Say" could possibly cause confusion, which you have noted. There could be some confusion over whether the user actually said that, or just posted it.

I think the best way to avoid this, would be to use "wrote it". For example:

He wrote that the word 'use' is often used wrongly.

not

He said that the word 'use' is often used wrongly. (Did he actually say it? Or did he post it?)

Of course, usually this can be determined by the context (e.g. Language hacker posted on a forum last week. He said that...).

But to be on the safe side, "wrote" would be better.

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Two of the meanings reported by the NOAD for say are:

  • (of a text or a symbolic representation) convey specified information or instructions
  • enable a listener or reader to learn or understand something by conveying or revealing (information or ideas)

In the second case, "I don't want to say too much" can used for who is listening or who is reading. Say can also be used figuratively as in, "the movie's title says it all."

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This "extended reach" for the verb say also applies to see. I have a blind friend who quite unselfconciously says things like "I'll see you later". Come to that, I think he also says "I read that" when he means he read an audio book. It's so natural one tends not to notice - even he might not even be able to definitively say one way or the other whether he uses "read" in that way. –  FumbleFingers Sep 10 '11 at 12:25

I would use, "he communicated such-and-such over the Internet. That would make things clear.

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