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Is it correct to use the word "read" in these sentences? If not, what would be more appropriate word to use instead?

The status-bar now reads: Click to run the currently highlighted cell.

The tool-tip reads: Click to run the currently highlighted cell.

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This is the so-called middle construction. And yes, perfectly grammatical. –  RegDwigнt Jun 8 '12 at 18:38
    
@RegDwightΒВBẞ8 This sort of thing is super-common in Romance, where it uses a reflexive pronoun to indicate the “middle voice” (not that they call it that). –  tchrist Jun 8 '12 at 19:13
    
At the risk of splitting hairs, I'm not entirely convinced that read in the OP's sentence is a true middle intransitive. Typical middle constructions such as It doesn't print or It washes well are about how something is done or if it can be done at all. Similarly, This book reads well is concerned with the ease of reading the book. [In other languages, as tchrist points out, the reflexive is commonly used to convey such meanings. Eg. German: Es liest sich gut.]. But in the OP's sentence there is no concern as to whether or how the text may be read, but simply as to what it says. –  Shoe Jun 9 '12 at 10:56
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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes, they are correct. "Read" can refer to the action performed by a human being when looking by text, or it can refer to the text itself or the medium containing the text.

I read the words, "Hello, world."

The message reads, "Hello, world."

The text reads, "Hello, world."

All are correct.

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I feel that read is correct in these cases. People might use says instead, but the status bar and tool-tip are incapable of speech outside of text-to-speech setups.

In all but edge cases, the user must read what is being reported by the status bar and various tool-tips.

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