"wear" and "put on"
Debra.P.Ziegeler at manchester.ac.uk
Thu May 12 14:56:59 UTC 2005
It is interesting to hear how many languages do not make this
distinction. It is also found in Hong Kong English and Singaporean
and Malaysian English. I recall a Singaporean speaker once
walking into a room and saying to me on a hot day in Australia:
"You wore shorts!" ( = 'You have put on shorts'). The use in those
dialects is probably related Chinese contact dialects - Mandarin
chuan1 means either 'wear' or 'put on' as well.
Date sent: Thu, 12 May 2005 11:15:47 +0400
From: "David Palfreyman" <David.Palfreyman at zu.ac.ae>
To: <Salinas17 at aol.com>, <amnfn at well.com>
Subject: Re: [FUNKNET] "wear" and "put on"
Copies to: funknet at mailman.rice.edu
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FYI, my brother-in-law's first language is Turkish, in which "giymek"
covers both "wear" and "put on". The reflexive/middle "giyinmek" means
>>> "A. Katz" <amnfn at well.com> 05/12/05 7:31 AM >>>
On Wed, 11 May 2005 Salinas17 at aol.com wrote:
> In a message dated 5/11/05 10:15:53 AM, oesten at ling.su.se writes:
> << "The teddy bear wore pink pyjamas" does not imply "The teddy bear
> pink pyjamas". That is, the relation between "put on" and "wear" is
> from that between "fall asleep" and "sleep", in that there is an
> (agentive) component in "put on". >>
> But isn't that a matter of the peculiar syntax governing "put on" in
> Might not "The teddy bear wore pink pyjamas" imply "Someone put pink
> on the teddy bear"? I think the original example is mainly about how
> focus on process versus end results can be used to convey different
> time. Difference in agents don't appear to affect the reference to
> in time. E.g., whether I say, "Put this dress on" or "I will put this
> you," they both mean that "You WILL wear this dress."
> Steve Long
To remove any implication of agentivity on the part of the wearer,
speakers can use "to be dressed in".
(1) The teddy bear was dressed in pink pajamas.
(2) The woman was dressed in pink pajamas.
Both (1) and (2) imply nothing about how the subjects came to be
The inference that someone probably dressed the teddy bear while the
dressed herself is purely pragmatic.
In Hebrew, the binyanim help to deal with this issue.
"Hitlabshi" -- Means "get dressed" (As in "dress yourself", reflexive)
"Livshi et ze" -- Means "get dressed in this" (Whether the emphasis is
on the dressing or on the thing to be worn is decided by stress.)
Thus "LIVSHI et ze" means "Put that on right now!"
But "Livshi et ZE" means "When you get dressed, make sure this is
In both the above cases, the wearer is an agent. The clothes are
However, the wearer need not be an agent. That depends on the
"ha'isha lavsha pijama" means "The woman wore a pajama."
agent: woman patient: pajama
"ha'isha haita levusha bepijama" means "The woman was dressed in a
Being dressed here is a stative built from a passive. The woman is
an agent nor a patient. Note that the pajamas can be completely omitted:
"Haisha haita levusha" means "The woman was dressed."
"hilbishu et ha'isha bepijama" means "The woman was dressed (by someone)
in a pajama." (Again, the pajamas can easily be omitted, and the
still makes sense.) Here the woman is clearly a patient, though no agent
English vocabulary items such as "put on" stress the inceptive nature of
the action, but they also require that the patient be specified.
You can't say:
without sounding very strange.
"Wear" is more agentive than "to be dressed", because the passive
version of "wear", "to be worn" has the clothes for a subject. Clearly
"wear" is very focused on the thing worn, but says nothing about
how the wearing came about. If we want to focus on the agent, we can
use some form of a verb that does not always require an overt patient:
"to dress", "to be dressed in" or "to dress another."
It may be that the husband in the anecdote was using the semantics of
dress" rather than "wear", because "to dress" in its various forms works
lot more like "lavash" in Hebrew, in that its focus is on the agent.
Dr. Aya Katz, Inverted-A, P.O. Box 267, Raymondville, MO 65542
Dr. Debra Ziegeler
School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures
Manchester M13 9PL
Tel.: (0161) 275 3142
Fax: (0161) 275 3031
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