"wear" and "put on"

Nick Enfield Nick.Enfield at mpi.nl
Wed May 11 12:11:05 UTC 2005

One reading is "be in state X"; the other is "do an action which results
in being in state X". For a similar distinction, consider verbs of
posture: for example, in various languages, 'sit' may mean to undergo a
change of state resulting in being in a sitting posture (i.e. 'sit
down') or simply to be in sitting posture. See John Newman's 2002 volume
"The linguistics of sitting, standing, and lying" (John Benjamins), e.g.
chapters 2 and 3.

Östen Dahl wrote:
> Telicity is not quite the whole story. Notice that in the example "learn"
> vs. "study", it is the presence or absence of an endpoint that makes the
> difference (in somewhat simplified terms...) But "put on" and "wear" differ
> in that "putting on" denotes an action which is rather the starting-point of
> "wearing". It is true that "put on" is telic, but you cannot simply state
> that it is the telic counterpart of "wear". Perhaps "put on" could be said
> to be inchoative or ingressive, but if you look closely at it "put on" is
> not quite synonymous to "start wearing" either.
> - Östen Dahl
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: funknet-bounces at mailman.rice.edu
>>[mailto:funknet-bounces at mailman.rice.edu] On Behalf Of
>>john at research.haifa.ac.il
>>Sent: den 11 maj 2005 07:53
>>To: David Palfreyman
>>Cc: funknet at mailman.rice.edu
>>Subject: Re: [FUNKNET] "wear" and "put on"
>>The relevant category is called `telic' (as opposed to
>>`atelic', or some people might want to say that `wear' is
>>`stative'). It means an action which is conceptualized as
>>inherently having an endpoint (e.g. put on). See Comrie's
>>book `Aspect', for example. A similar pair which Hebrew
>>speakers have problems with is `learn' (telic) vs. `study'
>>(atelic), which are both `lamad' in Hebrew. I have heard
>>Spanish speakers get confused between (atelic) `look for' and
>>(telic) `get', because they can both be `buscar' in Spanish
>>(saying e.g. `Look for the cat!' when the cat is in plain
>>sight; what they mean is `get the cat'). A similar problem is
>>the distinction between `go to/fall asleep' (punctual) vs.
>>`sleep' (atelic or perhaps stative); in many languages these
>>are morphologically related forms of the same verb so that
>>non-native speakers will say e.g. `I slept at 11 o'clock last night.'
>>There are many words like this.
>>Best wishes,
>>Quoting David Palfreyman <David.Palfreyman at zu.ac.ae>:
>>>My non-native English-speaking brother-in-law and his native
>>>English-speaking wife were preparing to go out, and running
>>late.  He
>>>indicated a dress and said "wear that".  She said "OK" and went on
>>>doing her make-up.  A minute later he said in frustration "come on,
>>>wear that!"  It turned out that he meant "put that on".
>>>Now, I can see the difference in meaning between the two verbs, but
>>>how would you describe it in semantic terms, and are there
>>other pairs
>>>of verbs with a similar distinction?
>>This message was sent using IMP, the Webmail Program of Haifa

N. J. Enfield
Language & Cognition Group, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
PB 310, 6500 AH, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

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