Date: Sat, 1 Nov 1997 00:50:25 +0900


Subject: Re: "Smell of"

Dennis R. Preston wrote:

If it was discussed with regard to 'smell' only then it is certainly not

complete. I don't remember the earlier discussion, but the use of 'of' with

sense verbs (taste, smell, feel) is widely distributed in the US south

(and, I suspect, has varying patterns of social significance).

If "social significance" means marked for social acceptability, I

disagree. At least in my case, these forms had no "non-standard" stigma

attached whatsoever. In fact, it was only after they appeared as a

topic on ADSL that I found out there were (unfortunate) people who

thought these expressions were strange.

Danny Long pointed out that the 'of' appearance in verbs

appears to be limited to grammatical imperatives (pragmatically they are

often 'invitations' or 'offers'), and that would seem to even more strongly

relate them to the parallel nominal forms. If Danny is right,

Have I ever been wrong so far, Dennis? Actually, what I said has been

misinterpreted though. I agreed with what the poster said about it

meaning "sniff" rather than just passively have an odor enter one's

nostrils. Maybe it's a hear-listen, see-look kind of thing. I'll have

to think about it a little more. Right now, it's past midnight here in

the Orient, and my mind is not exactly in high gear. I think this holds

true for "feel of" and "taste of" as well. "I tasted of his drink, but

I couldn't taste(*taste of) the alcohol." This semantic element of

course means that the "of" form is the form of choice with imperatives

(where someone has to actively put their senses to work).

then 'Smell of this' is grammatical, but 'I smelled of that rose yesterday' is ungrammatical.

I'm not a sense-verb + 'of' speaker myself.

This is obvious from your incorrect judgement above! I want all of

y'all to remember this faux pas the next time DInIs claims to be a

speaker of Southern English! Let the truth be known!

No, the sentence above is correct. It might be easier if you changed

the object, but you could very easily say things like "She asked me,

'Will you smell my chicken salad sandwich to make sure it's okay?'

Well, I could smell(*smell of) it all the way across the room and I knew

it had gone bad, but I went over and pretended to smell of it. I lied

and told her it was okay and that she should go ahead and eat it, 'cause

I figured she was one of those non-sense-verb-plus-of-speakers and

therefore had it coming to her."