"wear" and "put on"

Rob Freeman lists at chaoticlanguage.com
Sun May 22 05:05:32 UTC 2005

Hi Debra,

"Correct" usage is really a mire.

Sorry to be a pedant, and it doesn't change your point that this contrast
doesn't exist in Chinese, but you know, "You wore shorts!" sounds completely
idiomatic to me in the context. You decided to wear shorts, you made the
decision earlier, past-tense of wore, wear.

On the other hand, to me, "You have put on shorts" carries of implications of
recent change. So the implication would be either that you changed just a
little earlier, or you are going to continue wearing shorts all summer (c.f.
You've put on summer uniform.)

Perhaps if I'd been there I would have heard it differently. The more you
think about these things the less clear they become. When it comes down to
it, so much of what we think of as meaning does seem to depend what side of
the bed you get out of in the morning :-)


Rob Freeman

On Thursday 12 May 2005 22:56, Debra.Ziegeler wrote:
> Dear David,
> 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.
> Best,
> Debra Ziegeler

More information about the Funknet mailing list