I tried to translate this phrase literally and came up with "(My) ears can't hear". Since the expression means "(I'm) deaf", this makes sense.
However, I can't really get it to work grammatically, seeing as が isn't normally used to denote the subject in sentences with a "potential"-form.
So how can が be grammatically explained in this expression?
Thanks for reading through my question.

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    Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/21516/9831
    – chocolate
    Mar 15, 2019 at 23:26
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    " が isn't normally used to denote the subject in sentences with a "potential"-form." Hernh? This is news to me. What particle do you expect for these potential constructions? Mar 15, 2019 at 23:30
  • @chocolate In the link to goo in the link you gave, a definition of 見える was 見ることができる. This was new and surprising to me. But when I looked up 聞こえる in goo, I didn't see the definition 聞くことができる. I'm really bad with Japanese dictionaries, so maybe I missed it. Presumably that is also a valid definition? Does 耳が聞けない sound wrong? Why use 耳が聞こえない? Mar 16, 2019 at 7:14
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    @user3856370 ほんとですねぇ・・ 「見える -- 2 見ることができる」はあるのに、「聞こえる -- 聞くことができる」はないですねぇ。。 We say 「猫は暗闇でも(目が)見える」「目が見えない」「耳が聞こえる・耳が聞こえない」, not「耳が聞ける・聞けない」「目が見られる・見られない」... 明鏡国語辞典には「聞こえる -- 耳で感じ取ることができる。...『耳が聞こえる(=聴覚能力がある)』」とありますが…
    – chocolate
    Mar 16, 2019 at 13:25
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    @Chocolate 新明解国語辞典には「聞こえる -- 音・声が(自然に)耳に感じられる」とあるのですが、その文法欄に『「聞こえる」は、普通の聴力のある人なら、適度な音量があり、しかもほかの音や声に妨げられることがなければ、自然に耳に達する状態を表わす』と補足しています。これを読んで「耳が聞こえる=聴力がある」と解釈できなくもないと私は思いますが、どうでしょうか。
    – Setris
    Mar 17, 2019 at 22:52


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