"wear" and "put on"

Mark P. Line mark at polymathix.com
Wed May 11 18:01:31 UTC 2005

Ă–sten Dahl said:
> What Steve says is correct, but there are cases where there is a
> difference. "The teddy bear wore pink pyjamas" does not imply "The teddy
> bear put on pink pyjamas". That is, the relation between "put on" and
> "wear" is different from that between "fall asleep" and "sleep", in that
> there is an intentional (agentive) component in "put on".

Actually, I think it's stickier than that.

"The teddy bear wore pink pyjamas." is expressed as non-continuous, so it
actually does have an agentive ("what did the teddy bear do?") entailment
-- although it's easily suppressed by competing entailments relating to
the presumptive non-agent nature of teddy bears. This agentive entailment
is probably an implicature: if you say the teddy bear wore something in
particular, then you must believe that the teddy bear had a choice of
attire at the time.

Putting this in a continuous form removes the agentive entailment and puts
the sentence back into purely stative space:

"The teddy bear was wearing pink pyjamas."

-- Mark

Mark P. Line
San Antonio, TX

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