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An author may be said to fairly convey the spirit of intelligent peasant talk if he retains the idiom, compass, and characteristic expressions, although he may not encumber the page with obsolete pronunciations of the purely English words, and mispronunciations of those derived from Latin and Greek.

Can you explain to me what "may be said" exactly means in the above sentence. Why is "say" in the form of the past participle?

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    The statement can be made, or It would be true to say....that an author fairly conveys the spirit.... They were said to take no prisoners = it was said that they took no prisoners. It is said to be difficult. People say it is difficult. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 11 '16 at 15:26
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    Passive form of transitive say. They say {X is something}. X is said {to be something}. We need to convert "is" to "to be". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 11 '16 at 15:30
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    X may be said to [be/do/etc.] Y is just a slightly oblique way of saying X [is/does/etc.] Y. Note that including may makes the assertion slightly more "tenuous" (the speaker may be allowing for the possibility that what he's saying isn't [always] true). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 11 '16 at 15:37
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The idiom

it may be said (that)

literally means

it is possible to say (that)

and is usually understood to be

one (possible) way of interpreting...
one (possible) way of viewing...
one (possible) opinion is...

and is used when expressing an opinion or view of something in a nonaggressive way

An author may be said to fairly convey the spirit of intelligent peasant talk...

One opinion is that an author fairly conveys the spirit of intelligent peasant talk...
One interpretation is that an author fairly conveys the spirit of intelligent peasant talk...

It may be said that the Mona Lisa's smile is from eating chocolate.
There is an interpretation that the Mona Lisa's smile is from eating chocolate.

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