"wear"/"put on"/time again

Salinas17 at aol.com Salinas17 at aol.com
Thu May 12 13:58:56 UTC 2005

In a message dated 5/11/05 11:32:12 PM, amnfn at well.com writes:
<<It may be that the husband in the anecdote was using the semantics of "to
dress" rather than "wear", because "to dress" in its various forms works a lot
more like "lavash" in Hebrew, in that its focus is on the agent. >>

If we take the story precisely at face value, this does NOT clarify the
nature of the misunderstanding.  'He indicated a dress and said "wear that".  She
said "OK" and went on doing her make-up.'  There was no problem here with

If the husband says, "Get dressed," he is saying something different in
English than "put that [dress] on now."  The husband was specifying a particular
dress.  "Get dressed in that dress" also usually means something different than
"put that [dress] on now."  It loses its immediacy.

The essence of the misunderstanding (it would be non-analytical to call it an
"error") was once again about time, not about change-of-state or agency.

If the husband had said "wear that dress right now," the misunderstanding
would have been less likely, though the form is unexpected.  The key here is that
"put [something] on" carries a message about time that was lost when the
husband said "wear that."  That's why the wife said "ok" but kept doing something

Looking for the source of the misunderstanding in Turkish (or Hebrew) makes
sense, but only when the nature of the miscommunication is properly understood
from actual context.  The English forms "put this on"  or "get dressed" seems
to carry a connotation of immediacy by focusing on the inceptive rather than
the final state.

I notice that the closest parallel in terms of time reference, in all the
Hebrew examples given by Aya, appears to rely on emphasis rather than the

<<Thus "LIVSHI  et ze" means "Put that on right now!"
But "Livshi et ZE" means "When you get dressed, make sure this is what you

This shows a different strategy for communicating immediacy than the one we
see used in English in the original story.

Steve Long

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