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Recenly, with Facebook's new "feed" feature, whatever the heck that is, I've been seeing this notification coming up a lot:

[Friend One]さんと[Friend Two]さんがフィード購読{こうどく}を許可{きょか}しています。

I have to admit, even though it's such a simple sentence, it actually confuses me a little.

Does it mean Friend One and Friend Two have given permission to have their feeds be subscribed to by anyone? Or does it mean that they have given each other permission to see each other's feed? Something else?

Basically, I'm not sure if the means "and", as in "friend and friend have done X", or if the means "with", as in "friend has done X with friend."

Part of the confusion is that I don't know what the "feed" feature does, but I think part of the learning here is that I shouldn't be reliant on that information to work out what the Japanese means. I don't think I'd necessarily need that information to parse a similar sentence in English.

(PS: Yes, I could switch my Facebook interface to English and just see what the translation is, but I think parsing the Japanese on its own terms has more learning potential.)

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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

許可 'permit' is not an activity done to each other. A permits B. Asymmetric. Therefore, the sentence should be taken as your first interpretation: 'Friend One and Friend Two have given permission to have their feeds be subscribed'. If it is particularly necessary to express mutual activity, the sentence would have been [Friend One]さんと[Friend Two]さんが(お)互いのフィード 購{こう}読{どく}を許{きょ}可{か}しています。.

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Aha. So part of my lack of understanding was in how 許可{きょか} can be applied. Thanks for clearing that up! –  Dave M G Oct 4 '11 at 17:05
1  
@DaveMG and Sawa: Just a question for my clarification. If the sentence was to be: "friend has done X with friend Y.", wouldn't you need to have "Yと一緒に ... X" in the sentence as well? –  dotnetN00b Feb 27 '12 at 17:30

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