PhiLang 2013, University of ŁódźConditional Utterances and Conditional Thoughts:A Radical Contextualist Account Kasia M. Jaszczolt & Chi-Hé Elder University of Cambridge
Conditional utterances in English if p (then) q
No bi-unique correlation between the form of a conditional expression and the conditional meaning (i)Conditional sentences are not the only way to express conditional thoughts: (1) Say one word against Margaret Thatcher and David will be offended. (Ifyou say one word against MT, D will be offended.) (2) Your money or your life. (If you don’t give me your money I will take your life.)
(ii) Conditional sentences can be put to a variety of uses other than to express conditional thought: (3) If you wouldn’t mind, could you close the door? (4) If that’s a real diamond I’ll eat my hat!
A cross-linguistic perspective GuuguYimithirr (Australian, QNL): no overt conditionals (5) The dog might bark. The postman might run away. Evans & Levinson (2009: 443), after Haviland 1979
‘…while perhaps none of the logical connectives are universally lexically expressed, there is no evidence that languages differ in whether or not logical connectives are present in their logical forms.’ von Fintel & Matthewson (2008: 170)
Outline • Conditionals and pragmatic theory: delimiting the object of study • Mismatches between forms and meanings in expressing conditionality and their theoretical consequences • Various uses of if (ICE-GB) indirect conditionals (6) There are biscuits on the sideboard if you want some.
Radical contextualism • Representing conditional meanings in Interactive Semantics The diversity of ways of expressing conditional meaning, as well as the diversity of uses to which conditional if can be put, are not a problem for a radical contextualist theory.
Conditionals in pragmatics “…in standard cases to say ‘if p then q’ is to be conventionally committed to (to assert or imply in virtue of the meaning of ‘if’) both the proposition that p qand the Indirectness Condition” Indirectness Condition: ‘p would, in the circumstances, be a good reason for q’ GCI Grice (1967/1989: 58)
Common ground ‘supposing p, then q’
Cancellable GCI: ‘If he was surprised, he didn’t show it.’
‘…a conditional statement, if A, then B, is an assertion that the consequent is true, not necessarily in the world as it is, but in the world as it would be if the antecedent were true.’ Stalnaker (1975/1999: 68)
In search for an explanandum and an explanans • ‘ordinary conditional sentences’ and truth values (e.g. Grice) • ‘ordinary conditional sentences’ and possible worlds (e.g. Stalnaker, Lewis, Kratzer, vs. Woods 1997; Edgington 1997) • ‘ordinary conditional sentences’ and hypothetical thought (e.g. Evans & Over 2004; Over et al. 2010; Byrne & Johnson-Laird 2010)
Extending the scope: two directions (i) to ‘non-ordinary conditional sentences’ (ii) to conditional thoughts in a non-conditional form
i.a. Different roles of the antecedent (7) If you haven’t heard yet, the Queen attended the funeral. *Question test: And what if I have heard? *Contraposition test: If the Queen didn’t attend the funeral, you have heard already. (adapted from Bonnefon & Politzer 2011: 153)
i.b. Different speech acts (ICE-GB, Elder) (8) If you rang her now she’d say yes. (advice) (9) Be great if you would do that. (request)
(10) What we would like to do now is to reformulate the rule so that if a head word’s complement is missing, then the corresponding set in the complement list contains the special sign ‘ind’. B. Gillon, 2012, ‘Implicit complements: a dilemma for model theoretic semantics’. L&P 35, p. 333.
(10) What we would like to do now is to reformulate the rule so that if a head word’s complement is missing, then [let it be the case that] the corresponding set in the complement list contains the special sign ‘ind’. B. Gillon, 2012, ‘Implicit complements: a dilemma for model theoretic semantics’. L&P 35, p. 333.
hedging • indication of a speech act type • conventional expressions of politeness, …
ii.a (11) Give him a treat and he will be your friend for life. p Necessarilyq >> p Necessarilyq Klinedinst & Rothschild (2012): lexical ambiguity of and?
against conditional sentence as explanandum against minimalist truth-conditional semantics as explanans
Kratzer 1991/2012: If-clauses restrict the domain of operators (12) If the lights in his study are on, Roger is at home (MUST: the lights in his study are on) (Roger is at home) ‘The history of the conditional is the story of a syntactic mistake.’ Kratzer (2012: 106)
A corpus-based project on conditionals in English No bi-unique correspondence between conditional constructions and conditional thoughts • How should conditionals be classified? • What is the relation between form and content? • How ‘conditional’ are conditionals? Direct versus indirect conditionals • What is the primary intended meaning of conditional constructions? 24
Classifications of conditionals Conditional constructions lend themselves to a variety of classifications How to classify conditionals depends on the parameters being considered
Classifications of conditionals (1) • Indicative / counterfactual • Have different truth conditions • Classified by mood/tense of verb in consequent (13) If Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy, somebody else did. (14) If Oswald hadn’t killed Kennedy, somebody else would have. (Adams 1970) 26
Classifications of conditionals (2) • Sweetser (1990) (15) If John goes, (as a result) Mary will go (16) If John was there, (it means) Mary was there (17) If you think about it, Mary must have been there • Content / epistemic / speech act conditionals • Correspond to different ‘cognitive domains’ • Concerned with processing 27
Conditional thoughts and conditional utterances • No bi-unique correlation between form and content of conditionals • does not make sense to talk of a category of conditionals in terms of constructions • for the category of conditionals, there may not be much significance of the form p q 28
Conditional thoughts and conditional utterances (cont.) • Utterance does not have conditional LF • Primary intended meaning is conditional • Utterance has conditional LF • Primary intended meaning is conditional • Primary intended meaning is not conditional 29
A corpus-based approach • Corpus-based project on classifying conditionals • Great British component of the International Corpus of English (ICE-GB) • 300 spoken conversations • 2000 words per conversation 30
46 percent of conditional utterances use ‘if’ (ICE-GB, Elder 2012) 31
Narrowing scope to conditional constructions • Want to look at relation between form and content 32
2 main types of conditional (Quirk et al 1985) 1. Direct conditionals: • consequent is conditional on antecedent 2. Indirect conditionals: • consequent is not conditional on antecedent (6) There are biscuits on the sideboard if you want some (Austin 1961) 33
Direct conditionals (18) If you’d listened to me you’d only be seventy behind >> You should have listened to me (19) She’d be terribly offended if we didn’t come and pick her up >> We’d better go and pick her up (20) Oh if you hit me one more time I’ll kill you >> Don’t hit me again 34
Indirect conditionals (6) There are biscuits on the sideboard if you want some >> please help yourself (3) If you wouldn’t mind, could you close the door? >> please close the door 35
Indirect conditionals • Consequent is true regardless of truth of antecedent • Austin (1961): ‘Indirect conditionals’ are not conditional • Predelli (2009): Antecedent of an indirect conditional is ‘truth-conditionally irrelevant’ Is there any conditional relation between the antecedent/consequent of an indirect conditional?
From indirect to direct conditionals Can enrich consequent of an indirect conditional to give a conditional relationship (6) There are biscuits on the sideboard if you want some >> there are biscuits which you may have if you want some (21) If anyone asks, you’re four years old >> if anyone asks, sayyou’re four years old Indirect conditional at level of LF may be pragmatically interpreted as a direct conditional Enrichment may have to go beyond extending the extant LF
(6) There are biscuits on the sideboard if you want some >> there are biscuits which you may have if you want some >> please help yourself (primary meaning) (21) If anyone asks, you’re four years old >> if anyone asks, say you’re four years old (primary meaning) Conditional meaning may not be speaker’s primary intended meaning
What if there is no uttered consequent? (22) Now if you’d like to put on your helmet …that’d be great? …you’ll be safe? …the police won’t catch you? >> put on your helmet (primary meaning) There need not be one single intended consequent recoverable from the context At the level of thoughts, there may not be an intention of a consequent
How far can we legitimately enrich the consequent to show a conditional relationship between antecedent and consequent? How easy is this enrichment?
Conditional relationship – some enrichment/modulation required (21) If anyone asks, you’re four years old >> If anyone asks, sayyou’re four years old (23) If you’ve ever tried running your own business, it’s very difficult >> If you’ve ever tried running your own business, you’ll know thatit’s very difficult >> Running a business is very difficult (24) If you’d come round here, we have the Ottomans >> If you’d come round here, you’ll seewe have the Ottomans >> Come round here and see the Ottomans
‘I invite you to do q (if you want to)’ (25) I can dig the stuff out on it if there’s any interest >> I offer to dig the stuff out (26) You can break into the pears if you want to >> I invite you to have a pear (27) Do hang your coat up if you’d like to >> I invite you to hang your coat up Weak conditional relationship Consequent provides main message
‘I’m going to do q (if you’ll let me)’ (28) I’m just going to top up my tea again if you don’t mind (29) Let me develop the point if I may (30) I’d really love to tape it from you if you didn’t mind • Weak conditional relationship • If hedges non-propositional (speech act) content • If calls for hearer’s agreement/acquiescence to action described in consequent
Conditional expressed through indirect form (31) If I remember rightly you had jaundice, didn’t you >> If I remember rightly, I know that you had jaundice >> You had jaundice, didn’t you? • One intended consequent but not stated explicitly • If hedges propositional content of consequent
No explicit conditional relationship (32) It is still peanuts if you’ll pardon the expression (33) She was on the plump side, if I may respectfully say so (34) Very short skirt on if you don’t mind me saying If used to hedge propositional or non-propositional content Cannot retract assertion made in consequent; it is already ‘out there’ Antecedent calls for hearer’s implicit acceptance
Conditional meaning, but no one intended consequent (22) Now if you’d like to put on your helmet >> Put on your helmet (35) So if you could work on that one >> Work on that one (36) If you can hold on just half a minute while I put these potatoes out >> Hold on half a minute Conventionalised use of if Primary meaning: do p
Recoverability of the conditional relationship is independent of whether the conditional meaning is the primary meaning • There are different degrees of intentions associated with conditional meaning • How to capture this in semantics?
Conditionals in radical contextualism (9) Be great if you would do that. (22) Now if you’d like to put on your helmet. (37) Touch his iPad and he will scream.
Conditionals in radical contextualism Languages without conditional connective: ‘…while perhaps none of the logical connectives are universally lexically expressed, there is no evidence that languages differ in whether or not logical connectives are present in their logical forms.’ von Fintel & Matthewson (2008: 170)
Conditionals in radical contextualism contextualism(s) vs. relativism(s)