I know what you are saying. But I have to admit that I find that your borrowing of that metaphor for technology only intensifies my feeling that we have actually lost something in the translation. Although bookworms aren't ever worms, bookworm does refer to insects and larvae who bore and chew through books looking for food. But computers and tablets are too sterile. It seems to highlight the fact that we are missing some depth and substance to our reading nowadays.
Context, and how it's used in a sentence. In this sentence, it wouldn't make sense for it to be a verb. I think most languages have at least a few words that can be used as a verb and a noun without any change in spelling or prounciation.
"The chain has oil" versus "Did you oil the chain?" Spanish has cocina, which means kitchen or he/she/you cook.
Cocina* not cocina.
Hm fly works en houden van voor Like works just not in 1 sentences. (It could also mean hold but for (fruit)fly to work it has to be 2nd p.s. buy in dutch that takes -t while the singular doesn't.) Ik vlieg en houd een banaan vast. De fruitvlieg houdt van banaan. Vast!
I fly and hold a banana. The fruitfly likes banana. Sure(ly)
Not bad actually. (Just have an overheated brain now..)
A dutch one is:
Ik niet niet,
maar een nietmachine wel.
Meaning I dont staple
but a stapler does.
Or was it
Een niemachine niet but.. hm I forgot the orifinal but while looking I found this absolute gem!
The text can mean either staples well or defect/not working (literally not good)
Btw the original sentence was something like.
Een naaimachine naait en een nietmachine niet. Meaning
A sewing machine sews and a stapler staples/ doesn't (niet can mean both)
I have just begun the Dutch course, but I am flying through the early sections because I speak both English and German. But when I got to this question my first Impulse was to translate it as Books are not to be eaten. Now I know that that is passive voice which won't be covered for quite some time, but my point is sometkmes if words have related meanings you get the gyst early on without actually getting the right translation. And as you gain more experience you don't even think about it. Just look up the English word fair. There are many, quite diverse, meanings. But when was the last time you were confused by a native speakers use of that word and choose the wrong meaning.?
"Het eten" can also mean the act of eating, for instance in;
Het eten was pijnlijk
(The act of) eating was painfull
And eten the noun can also be without an article. When it is about food in general as an uncountable thing. Like in
Er was niet veel eten
There wasnt a lot of food.
Er is eten te koop op de markt.
There is food for sale at the market.
English has plenty of examples of words that can be used as different parts of speech without any change in pronunciation or spelling. To paraphrase an example from my Twitter timeline: "We do not object to the object."
In this case, you'd know that eten means food(noun) because it's preceded with 'geen', which can be (partially) thought of as "not a".
That's not really true. Eten is the infinitive form of the verb. We use our gerund most commonly as a noun, but the infinitive is always possible, although it might sound rather formal or old fashioned. But To be or not to be, that is the question is probably the most famous example. But no one would think it strange if I said My dream was to work with him instead of My dream was working with him. The only thing that makes this sound strange is that we happen to use a separate word for food. But eatings would essentially mean Good if you think about it.
Ah, what a brilliant observation. Thank you. It's much like how in english you can say, "That's no moon!" (As Han Solo did about the Deathstar.) In this case "no" is working like "geen", negating a noun. But you cannot say, "That's no red!", you have to say "That's not red!", in this case not is like "niet." The only difference I'd say is that in English we can also use "not" for nouns, as long as you use an article. Aka, "That's not a moon!" is correct in English. Whereas, I assume, "Dat is niet een maan" is not correct in Dutch. Or... is it?
(Update: sudden rush of brain to the head: Perhaps "Dat is niet een maan" is correct, but it means, that is not one moon, but it might be two moons.) ??
Well it does make sense that you hear the n from geen as if it were before the e instead of at the end of geen. Even French, which really doesn't pronounce terminal consonants elides them onto the next word if it begins with a vowel. I don't know how much my German has helped my Dutch, but I haven't had a problem with a n's.
No. That would probably best be Boeken worden niet gegeten. It is true that the word food and the infinitive of the verb to eat look the same. But actually the geen, among other things, shows that it is not the verb. Verbs are always negated with niet. Only nouns are negated by geen. More literally this is Books are no food.