PhiLang 2013, University of d Conditional Utterances and
PhiLang 2013, University of d Conditional Utterances and Conditional Thoughts: A Radical Contextualist Account Kasia M. Jaszczolt & Chi-H Elder University of Cambridge 1
Conditional utterances in English if p (then) q 2 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. ( If you say one word against MT, D will be offended.) (2) Your money or your life. ( If you dont give me your money I will take your life.) 3 (ii) Conditional sentences can be put to a variety of uses than to express conditional thought: other
(3) If you wouldnt mind, could you close the door? (4) If thats a real diamond Ill eat my hat! 4 A cross-linguistic perspective Guugu Yimithirr (Australian, QNL): no overt conditionals (5) The dog might bark. The postman might run away. Evans & Levinson (2009: 443), after Haviland 1979
5 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) 6
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. 7
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. 8 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 q and the Indirectness Condition Indirectness Condition: p would, in the circumstances, be a good reason for q GCI Grice (1967/1989: 58) 9 Common ground supposing p, then q
10 Cancellable GCI: If he was surprised, he didnt show it. 11 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) 12 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 & JohnsonLaird 2010)
13 Extending the scope: two directions (i) to non-ordinary conditional sentences (ii) to conditional thoughts in a non-conditional form 14 i.a. Different roles of the antecedent
(7) If you havent heard yet, the Queen attended the funeral. *Question test: And what if I have heard? *Contraposition test: If the Queen didnt attend the funeral, you have heard already. (adapted from Bonnefon & Politzer 2011: 153) 15 i.b. Different speech acts (ICE-GB, Elder)
(8) If you rang her now shed say yes. (advice) (9) Be great if you would do that. (request) 16 (10) What we would like to do now is to reformulate the rule so that if a head words 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.
17 (10) What we would like to do now is to reformulate the rule so that if a head words 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. 18 hedging
indication of a speech act type conventional expressions of politeness, 19 ii.a (11) Give him a treat and he will be your friend for life. p Necessarily q >> p Necessarily q Klinedinst & Rothschild (2012): lexical ambiguity of and?
20 against conditional sentence as explanandum 21 against conditional sentence as explanandum against minimalist truth-conditional semantics as explanans 22
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) 23
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
25 Classifications of conditionals (1) Indicative / counterfactual Have different truth conditions Classified by mood/tense of verb in consequent (13) If Oswald didnt kill Kennedy, somebody else did.
(14) If Oswald hadnt 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.) (a) Utterance does not have conditional LF Primary intended meaning is conditional (b) 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 youd listened to me youd only be seventy behind >> You should have listened to me (19) Shed be terribly offended if we didnt come and pick her up >> Wed better go and pick her up (20) Oh if you hit me one more time Ill kill you >> Dont hit me again
34 Indirect conditionals (6) There are biscuits on the sideboard if you want some >> please help yourself (3) If you wouldnt 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? 36 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, youre four years old >> if anyone asks, say youre 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 37 Conditional meaning may not be speakers
primary intended meaning (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, youre four years old >> if anyone asks, say youre four years old (primary meaning) 38 What if there is no uttered consequent?
(22) Now if youd like to put on your helmet thatd be great? youll be safe? the police wont 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 39
How far can we legitimately enrich the consequent to show a conditional relationship between antecedent and consequent? How easy is this enrichment? 40 Conditional relationship some enrichment/modulation required (21) If anyone asks, youre four years old >> If anyone asks, say youre four years old
(23) If youve ever tried running your own business, its very difficult >> If youve ever tried running your own business, youll know that its very difficult >> Running a business is very difficult (24) If youd come round here, we have the Ottomans >> If youd come round here, youll see we have the Ottomans >> Come round here and see the Ottomans 41
I invite you to do q (if you want to) (25) I can dig the stuff out on it if theres 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 youd like to >> I invite you to hang your coat up Weak conditional relationship Consequent provides main message 42
Im going to do q (if youll let me) (28) Im just going to top up my tea again if you dont mind (29) Let me develop the point if I may (30) Id really love to tape it from you if you didnt mind Weak conditional relationship If hedges non-propositional (speech act) content If calls for hearers agreement/acquiescence to action
described in consequent 43 Conditional expressed through indirect form (31) If I remember rightly you had jaundice, didnt you >> If I remember rightly, I know that you had jaundice >> You had jaundice, didnt you? One intended consequent but not stated explicitly If hedges propositional content of consequent
44 No explicit conditional relationship (32) It is still peanuts if youll pardon the expression (33) She was on the plump side, if I may respectfully say so (34) Very short skirt on if you dont 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 hearers implicit acceptance 45 Conditional meaning, but no one intended consequent (22) Now if youd 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 46
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? 47
Conditionals in radical contextualism (9) Be great if you would do that. (22) Now if youd like to put on your helmet. (37) Touch his iPad and he will scream.
48 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)
49 Conditionals in radical contextualism contextualism(s) vs. relativism(s) 50 Conditionals in radical contextualism contextualism (one sentence multiple propositions;
indexicalism vs. free enrichment) 51 Davis (2013): (38) If a dangerous object has been found, security should be summoned. 52
Davis against content relativism and dyadic contextualism (but not going far enough) If indicative conditionals have anything like the Stalnaker semantics (), there is no need to explain away the fact that if one speaker says If A, C and another says, It is not the case that if A, C, then they are disagreeing with each other and one party has to be wrong. For on such a semantics, the two speakers are expressing incompatible propositions. Davis (2013: 37) 53
Our examples Overt conditional (9) Be great if you would do that. (6) There are biscuits on the sideboard if you want some. (39) If you dont mind me saying so, you look dreadful in this frock. No overt conditional (40) Snowing? Lets go skiing. (37) Touch his iPad and he will scream. (5) The dog might bark. The postman might run away. (Guugu
Yimithirr) 54 Various types of conditional thought? The varied and numerous uses of if in everyday language () all have something in common: the listener is invited to suppose or imagine a hypothetical state of affairs. Inferences may be deductive, probabilistic, or pragmatic, with both implicit and explicit cognitive systems playing their part.
Evans & Over (2004: 171-172) 55 Changing mental states of the interlocutors; suppositions Indicative: (41) If Jim cheats, he will be found out. Subjunctive: (42) If Jim had cheated, he would have been found out. Interrogative:
(43) Everyone wondered if Jim had cheated. cf. Byrne & Johnson-Laird 2010; Starr 2011 56 Suppositions as primary or secondary meanings (22) Now if youd like to put on your helmet. 57
Conditionals in Default Semantics K.M. Jaszczolt, 2005, Default Semantics: Foundations of a Compositional Theory of Acts of Communication, Oxford: Oxford University Press. K. M. Jaszczolt, 2010. Default Semantics. In: B. Heine and H. Narrog (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 215-246. world knowledge (WK) word meaning and sentence structure (WS)
merger representation situation of discourse (SD) stereotypes and presumptions about society and culture (SC) properties of human inferential system (IS) Fig. 1: Sources of information contributing to a merger representation
Primary meaning: combination of word meaning and sentence structure (WS) merger representation social, cultural and cognitive defaults (CD) world-knowledge defaultspm (SCWDpm)
conscious pragmatic inferencepm (from situation of discourse, social and cultural assumptions, and world knowledge) (CPIpm) Secondary meanings: Social, cultural and world-knowledge defaultssm (SCWDsm) conscious pragmatic inferencesm (CPIsm) Fig. 2: Utterance interpretation according to the processing model of the revised version of Default Semantics
sources of information types of processes 61 Mapping between sources and processes WK SC WS
SD IS SCWD or CPI SCWD or CPI WS (logical form) CPI CD DS makes use of the processing model and it indexes the components of
with a subscript standing for the type of processing. 62 The imperfect conditional perfection Fig. 3. for If you mow the lawn, I will give you five dollars. x y z e1 e2 the speaker (x) the addressee (y) the lawn (z)
tf [e1 e2]WS [ACC e1]WS [ACCrf e2]WS, CD e1: [y mow z]WS e2: [x give $5 to y]WS
[e1 e2]CPI 1 63 Compositionality on the level of interaction of processes (interactive compositionality) Different from: Freges compositionality Gestaltist, pragmatic compositionality (Recanati 2004) Compositionality of thought >> compositionality of language in Embodied Construction Grammar (e.g. Feldmans 2010)
64 Conditionals in Interactive Semantics K. M. Jaszczolt, in progress, Interactive Semantics, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 65 Representing conditional thought (two dimensions) 1. p ?PM
If you leave the tea on a wobbly table 2. p ?SM If youd like to put on your helmet. PM: Please put your helmet on. 3. p q WS, PM If it rains, we will stay at home. 4. p q WS, SM If you are hungry, there is food in the fridge. PM: Help yourself to food. 5. p q , PM Touch his iPad and he will scream. PM: If you touch his iPad, he will scream. ?6. p q , SM
Please put your helmet on. SM: If you put the helmet on, you will be safer. 66 Fig. 4. for 1. p ?PM If you leave the tea on a wobbly table x y z e1 e2 the addressee (x) tea (y) wobbly table (z)
tf [e1 e2]CD, CPIpm [ACC e1]WS [ACCrf e2]CD, CPIpm e1 : [x leave y on z ]WS e2 : [x spill y] CD, CPIpm
67 Fig. 5. for 2. p ?SM If youd like to put on your helmet. PM: Please put your helmet on. x y e1 e2 the addressee (x) helmet (y)
e1: e2: [the speaker requests e2]CD, CPIpm [x put on y]WS 68 Fig. 6. for 5. p q , PM Touch his iPad and he will scream.
x y z e1 e2 the addressee (x) ipad (y) contextually salient male (z) [ACCtf e1] CD, CPIpm [ACCrf e2]WS e1: e2:
[e1 e2]CD, CPIpm [x touch zs y]WS, CD, CPIpm [z scream]WS 69 Conclusions The meaning of the utterance is attributable to the result of the interaction of information coming from different sources identified in Default/Interactive Semantics.
The diversity of (i) uses to which conditional if can be put and (ii) ways of expressing conditional meaning can be represented in a radical contextualist account (IS). The semantics of conditionals is best pursued when conditional thought is adopted as the object of study, where such conditional thoughts constitute primary or secondary meaning of an utterance that is expressed by a conditional or other sentence form. 70 Select references
Bonnefon, J.-F. & G. Politzer. 2011. Pragmatics, mental models and one paradox of the material conditional. Mind & Language 26. 141-155. Byrne, R. M. J. & P. N. Johnson-Laird. 2010. Conditionals and possibilities. In: M. Oaksford & N. Chater (eds). Cognition and Conditionals: Probability and Logic in Human Thinking. Oxford University Press. 55-68. Cappelen, H. & J. Hawthorne. 2009. Relativism and Monadic Truth. Oxford University Press. Davis. W. A. 2013. Dyadic contextualism and content relativism. Intercultural Pragmatics 10. 1-39. Declerck, R. & S. Reed. 2001. Conditionals: a Comprehensive Empirical Analysis. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Edgington, D. 1997. Commentary to Woods 1997. 95-137. Elder, C. 2012. The underlying conditionality of conditionals which do not use if. Cambridge Occasional Papers in Linguistics 6. Evans, J. St B. T. & D. E. Over. 2004. If. Oxford University Press. Evans, N. and S.C. Levinson. 2009. The myth of language universals: Language diversity and its importance for cognitive science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32. 429-492. 71 Feldman, J. 2010. Embodied language, best-fit analysis, and formal compositionality. Physics of Life Reviews 7. 358-410.
von Fintel, K. and L. Matthewson. 2008. Universals in semantics. The Linguistic Review 25. 139-201. Grice, H. P. 1967. Indicative conditionals. Reprinted in 1989, Studies in the Way of Words. Harvard University Press. 58-85. Jaszczolt, K. M. 2005. Default Semantics: Foundations of a Compositional Theory of Acts of Communication. Oxford University Press. Jaszczolt, K. M. 2010. Default Semantics. In: B. Heine and H. Narrog (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Analysis. Oxford University Press. 215-246. Jaszczolt, K.M. in progress. Interactive Semantics. Oxford University Press. Klinedinst, N. & D. Rothschild. 2012. Connectives without truth tables. Natural Language Semantics 20. 137-175.
Kratzer, A. 1991. Conditionals. Reprinted in 2012, Modals and Conditionals. Oxford University Press. 86-108. Lycan, W. G. 2001. Real Conditionals. Oxford: Clarendon Press. MacFarlane, J. 2005. Making sense of relative truth. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105. 321-339. 72 Over, D.E., J. St B. T. Evans & S. Elqayam. 2010. Conditionals and non-constructive reasoning. In: M. Oaksford & N. Chater (eds). Cognition and Conditionals: Probability and Logic in Human Thinking. Oxford University Press. 135-151. Recanati, F. 2004. Literal Meaning. Cambridge University Press.
Stalnaker, R. C. 1975, Indicative conditionals. Reprinted in 1999, Context and Content. Oxford University Press. 63-77. Starr, W. B. 2011. Conditionals and questions. Manuscript, NYU. Sweetser, E. 1990. From Etymology to Pragmatics. Cambridge University Press. Woods, M. 1997. Conditionals. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 73
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