Date: Fri, 31 Oct 1997 22:13:34 -0600


Subject: Re: "Smell of"

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


I think the last series began with a question about 'feel of' or 'taste of'

and that 'smell of' came into the discussion as well. Maybe the discussion

came up in the spring or summer when Dennis Preston was too busy working on

his Handbook of Perceptual Dialectology to spend much time on ads-l.

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, then 'Smell

of this' is gram matical, but 'I smelled of that rose yesterday' (with the

proper meaning - not 'I had the smell of a rose myself') is ungrammatical.

I'm not a sense-verb + 'of' speaker myself. Is that right for those of you

who are?

All three of these verbs carry the sense of "check it out," "see if it's

OK," or "verify this." If a group had been checking out roses and other

flowers to see if we could find exactly the right fragrance for a perfume

(or stink bomb) and the project lasted a couple of days, then the sentence

posed by Dennis Preston would be appropriate and grammatical if I wanted to

say "Yeah, I checked that one out yesterday (bent down and smelled of that

one); we've gotta keep going till we find the right one."

I've been trying to check out the 'see' sense verb for this 'vx of ny'

pattern, but the only situation I've come up with is "Do you see much of

Bobby?" "No. I saw him go into the hardware store the other day. Must be

working on his house again. I don't see much of him anyway." "Do you see

Bobby much?" would have different implicatures, perhaps referring to

spending some time with Bobby rather than merely catching sight of him.

And "see him around much" seems to be different from "see much of him."

I'd be surprised if these 'sense of' verbs were found to be regional.