Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

(Un)conditionals

Abstract

I give an account of the compositional semantics of unconditionals (e.g. Whoever goes to the party, it will be fun) that explains their relationship to if -conditionals in the Lewis/Kratzer/Heim tradition. Unconditionals involve an alternative-denoting adjunct (in English in particular, a question-denoting adjunct) that supplies domain restrictions pointwise (in the sense of Hamblin) to a main-clause operator such as a modal. The differences from if -clauses follow from the structure of the adjuncts; both are conditionals in the Lewisian sense. In the course of treating unconditionals, I provide a concrete implementation of conditionals where conditional adjuncts in general are a species of correlative, and show what detaching this hypothesis from if involves.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Abusch, D., and M. Rooth. 2004. Empty-domain effects for presuppositional and non-presuppositional determiners. In Context dependence in the analysis of linguistic meaning, ed. H. Kamp and B. Partee, 7–27. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

  2. Alonso-Ovalle, L. 2004. Simplification of disjunctive antecedents. In Proceedings of the North East Linguistic Society 34, ed. K. Moulton and M. Wolf, 1–15. Amherst: GLSA.

  3. Alonso-Ovalle, L. 2005. Distributing the disjuncts over the modal space. In Proceedings of the North East Linguistics Society 35, ed. L. Bateman and C. Ussery. Amherst: GLSA, University of Massachusetts.

  4. Alonso-Ovalle, L. 2006. Disjunction in alternative semantics. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

  5. Alonso-Ovalle, L. 2008. Alternatives in the disjunctive antecedents problem. In Proceedings of WCCFL 26, ed. C.B. Chang and H.J. Haynie, 42–50. Somerville: Cascadilla Press.

  6. Alonso-Ovalle L. (2009) Counterfactuals, correlatives, and disjunction. Linguistics and Philosophy 32: 207–244

  7. Anand, P. 2006. De de se. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.

  8. Anand, P., and A. Nevins. 2004. Shifty operators in changing contexts. In Proceedings of SALT 14, ed. R. Young, 20–37. Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications.

  9. Artstein, R. 2002. A focus semantics for echo questions. In Workshop on information structure in context, ed. A. Bende-Farkas and A. Riester, 98–107. Stuttgart: IMS.

  10. Baker, C.L. 1968. Indirect questions in English. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois.

  11. Baker C.L. (1970) Notes on the description of English questions: The role of an abstract question morpheme. Foundations of Language. 6: 197–219

  12. Bartels, C. 1999. The intonation of English statements and questions. New York: Garland Publishing.

  13. Beaver, D., C. Roberts, M. Simons, and J. Tonhauser. 2011. What projects and why. In Proceedings of SALT XX, ed. D. Lutz and N. Li, 309–327. Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications.

  14. Beck S. (1997) On the semantics of comparative conditionals. Linguistics and Philosophy 20: 229–271

  15. Beck S. (2006) Intervention effects follow from focus interpretation. Natural Language Semantics 14: 1–56

  16. Beck S., Kim S.S. (2006) Intervention effects in alternative questions. Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 9: 165–208

  17. Belnap, N., and T. Steel. 1976. The logic of questions and answers. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

  18. Bennett J. (1982) Even if. Linguistics and Philosophy 5: 403–418

  19. Bennett J. (2003) A philosophical guide to conditionals. Oxford University Press, Oxford

  20. Bhatt R. (2003) Locality in correlatives. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 21: 485–541

  21. Bhatt, R., and R. Pancheva. 2006. Conditionals. In The Blackwell companion to syntax, ed. M. Everaert, H.V. Riemsdijk, R. Goedemans, and B. Hollebrandse, vol. I, 638–687. Hoboken: Blackwell.

  22. Biezma, M. 2009. Alternative vs. polar questions: The cornering effect. In Proceedings of SALT 19, ed. E. Cormany, S. Ito, and D. Lutz, 37–54. Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications.

  23. Biezma M., Rawlins K.. (2012) Responding to alternative and polar questions. Linguistics and Philosophy 35: 261–406

  24. Bolinger, D. 1978. Yes–no questions are not alternative questions. In Questions, ed. H. Hiz, 87–105. Dordrecht: D. Reidel.

  25. Büring D. (2003) On D-trees, beans, and B-accents. Linguistics and Philosophy 26: 511–545

  26. Cable, S. 2007. The grammar of q: Q-particles and the nature of Wh-fronting, as revealed by the Wh-questions of Tlingit. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.

  27. Caponigro, I. 2003. Free not to ask: On the semantics of free relatives and wh-words cross-linguistically. Ph.D. dissertation, UCLA.

  28. Cheng L., Huang J. (1996) Two types of donkey sentence. Natural Language Semantics 4: 121–163

  29. Chierchia G. (2006) Broaden your views: Implicatures of domain widening and the “logicality” of language. Linguistic Inquiry 37: 535–590

  30. Ciardelli, I., J. Groenendijk, and F. Roelofsen. 2010. Information, issues, and attention. Manuscript, ILLC, University of Amsterdam.

  31. Comrie, B. 1986. Conditionals: A typology. In On conditionals, ed. E. Traugott, A.G.B. ter Meulen, J. Reilly, and C. Ferguson, 215–228. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  32. Condoravdi, C. 2005. Not knowing or caring who. Paper presented at the MIT/Harvard LSA Summer Institute.

  33. Condoravdi, C. 2008. Whatever: Free choice and uncertainty. Talk at Informal Formal Semantics Group, Stanford.

  34. Dayal, V. 1995. Quantification in correlatives. In Quantification in natural languages, ed. E. Bach, E. Jelinek, A. Kratzer, and B. Partee, vol. 1, 179–205. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  35. Dayal, V. 1996. Locality in WH quantification: Questions and relative clauses in Hindi. Studies in linguistics and philosophy. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  36. Dayal, V. 1997. Free relatives and ever: Identity and free choice readings. In Proceedings of SALT 7, ed. A. Lawson, 99–116. Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications.

  37. Declerck, R., and S. Reed. 2001. Conditionals: A comprehensive empirical analysis. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  38. Diesing, M. 1992. Indefinites. Cambridge: MIT Press.

  39. Farkas D., Sugioka Y. (1983) Restrictive if/when clauses. Linguistics and Philosophy 6: 225–258

  40. Gawron, J.M. 2001. Universal concessive conditionals and alternative NPs in English. In Logical perspectives on language and information, ed. C. Condoravdi and G.R. de Lavalette, 73–106. Stanford: CSLI Publications.

  41. Geis, M.L. 1985. The syntax of conditional sentences. In Studies in generalized phrase structure grammar, ed. M.L. Geis, 130–159. Columbus: Ohio State University.

  42. Giannakidou A., Cheng L. (2006) (In)definiteness, polarity, and the role of wh-morphology in free choice. Journal of Semantics 23: 135–183

  43. Gillies A. (2010) Iffiness. Semantics and Pragmatics 3(4): 1–42

  44. Ginzburg, J. 1994. An update semantics for dialogue. In Proceedings of the 1st international workshop on computational semantics, ed. H. Bunt. University of Tilburg.

  45. Groenendijk, J. 1999. The logic of interrogation. In Proceedings of SALT 9, ed. T. Matthews and D.L. Strolovitch, 109–126. Ithaca: CLC Publications.

  46. Groenendijk, J., and F. Roelofsen. 2009. Inquisitive semantics and pragmatics. Paper presented at Stanford workshop on language, communication, and rational agency.

  47. Groenendijk, J., and M. Stokhof. 1984. Studies in the semantics of questions and the pragmatics of answers. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Amsterdam.

  48. Groenendijk, J., and M. Stokhof. 1990. Partitioning logical space. Annotated handout, ESSLI.

  49. Groenendijk, J., and M. Stokhof. 1997. Questions. In Handbook of logic and language, ed. J. van Benthem and A. ter Meulen, 1055–1124. Amsterdam/Cambridge: Elsevier/MIT Press.

  50. Grosu, A. 2002. Strange relatives at the interface of two millennia. Glot International 6 (6): 145–167.

  51. Grosu, A. 2003. A unified theory of ‘standard’ and ‘transparent’ free relatives. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 21: 247–331.

  52. Guerzoni, E. 2003. Why even ask? Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.

  53. Guerzoni, E., and D. Lim. 2007. Even if, factivity and focus. In Proceedings of SuB 11, ed. E. Puig-Waldmüller, 276–290. Barcelona: Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

  54. Hacquard, V. 2006. Aspects of modality. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.

  55. Haegeman, L. 2003. Conditional clauses: External and internal syntax. Mind & Language 18: 317–339.

  56. Hagstrom, P. 1998. Decomposing questions. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.

  57. Haiman, J. 1986. Constraints on the form and meaning of the protasis. In On conditionals, ed. E. Traugott, A.G.B. ter Meulen, J. Reilly, and C. Ferguson, 215–228. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  58. Hamblin, C.L. 1958. Questions. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 36: 159–168.

  59. Hamblin, C.L. 1973. Questions in Montague English. Foundations of Language 10: 41–53.

  60. Han, C., and M. Romero. 2002. Ellipsis and movement in the syntax of whether/Q…or questions. In Proceedings of NELS 32, 197–216. Amherst: GLSA.

  61. Han, C., and M. Romero. 2004. The syntax of whether/Q…or questions: Ellipsis combined with movement. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 22: 527–564.

  62. Haspelmath, M., and E. König. 1998. Concessive conditionals in the languages of Europe. In Adverbial constructions in the languages of Europe, ed. J. van der Auwera, 563–640. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  63. Heim, I. 1982. The semantics of definite and indefinite noun phrases. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

  64. Heim, I., and A. Kratzer. 1998. Semantics in generative grammar. Malden: Blackwell.

  65. Heller, D., and L. Wolter. 2008. Identity and indeterminacy in -ever free relatives. In Proceedings of SALT 18, ed. T. Friedman and S. Ito, 394–410. Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications.

  66. Heller, D., and L. Wolter. 2011. On identification and transworld identity in natural language: The case of -ever free relatives. Linguistics and Philosophy 34: 169–199.

  67. Higginbotham, J. 1996. The semantics of questions. In The handbook of contemporary semantic theory, ed. S. Lappin, 195–227. Oxford: Blackwell.

  68. Horn, L. 2000a. From if to iff: Conditional perfection as pragmatic strengthening. Journal of Pragmatics 32: 289–326.

  69. Horn, L. 2000b. Pick a theory (not just any theory). In Negation and polarity, ed. L. Horn and Y. Kato, 147–192. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  70. Huddleston, R., and G.K. Pullum. 2002. The Cambridge grammar of the English language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  71. Hulstijn, J. 1997. Structured information states. Raising and resolving issues. In Proceedings of MunDial97, ed. A. Benz and G. Jäger. Munich: University of Munich.

  72. Iatridou, S. 1991. Topics in conditionals. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.

  73. Iatridou, S. 1994. On the contribution of conditional then. Natural Language Semantics 2: 171–199.

  74. Iatridou, S., and D. Embick. 1994. Conditional inversion. In Proceedings of NELS 24, ed. K. Kusumoto, 133–147. Amherst, MA: GLSA.

  75. Ippolito M. (2003) Presuppositions and implicatures in counterfactuals. Natural Language Semantics 11: 245–286

  76. Isaacs, J., and K. Rawlins. 2008. Conditional questions. Journal of Semantics 25: 269–319.

  77. Izvorski, R. 1996. The syntax and semantics of correlative proforms. In Proceedings of NELS 26, ed. K. Kusumoto, 133–147. Amherst, MA: GLSA.

  78. Izvorski, R. 2000a. Free adjunct free relatives. In WCCFL 19, 232–245. Somerville: Cascadilla Press.

  79. Izvorski, R. 2000b. Free relatives and related matters. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.

  80. Jacobson, P. 1995. On the quantificational force of English free relatives. In Quantification in natural languages, ed. E. Bach, E. Jelinek, A. Kratzer, B. Partee, 451–486. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  81. Jespersen, O. 1909–1949. A modern English grammar on historical principles London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

  82. Kamp, H. 1973. Free choice permission. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 74: 57–74.

  83. Karttunen, L. 1977. Syntax and semantics of questions. Linguistics and Philosophy 1: 3–44.

  84. Karttunen, L., and S. Peters. 1976. What indirect questions conventionally implicate. In CLS 12: papers from the twelth regional meeting, ed. S. Mufwene et al., 351–368. Chicago: The Chicago Linguistic Society.

  85. Kay, P., and C. Fillmore. 1999. Grammatical constructions and linguistic generalizations: The ‘What’s X Doing Y?’ construction. Language 75 (1): 1–33.

  86. Klinedinst, N. 2004. Ever-concessives as question quantifiers. Talk given at the UCSC modality workshop, Jun 5, 2004.

  87. König, E. 1986. Conditionals, concessive conditionals and concessives: Areas of contrast, overlap and neutralization. In On conditionals, ed. E. Traugott, A.G.B. ter Meulen, J. Reilly, and C. Ferguson, 229–246. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  88. Kratzer, A. 1977. What ‘must’ and ‘can’ must and can mean. Linguistics and Philosophy 1: 337–355.

  89. Kratzer, A. 1981. The notional category of modality. In Words, worlds, and contexts: New approaches in world semantics, ed. H.J. Eikmeyer and H. Rieser, 38–74. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  90. Kratzer, A. 1986. Conditionals. In Proceedings of CLS 22, ed. A.M. Farley, P. Farley, and K.E. McCollough, 115–135. Chicago: The Chicago Linguistic Society.

  91. Kratzer, A. 1991. Modality. In Semantics: An international handbook of contemporary research, ed. A. von Stechow and D. Wunderlich, 639–650. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  92. Kratzer, A. 2005. Constraining premise sets for counterfactuals. Journal of Semantics 22 (2): 153–158.

  93. Kratzer, A., and J. Shimoyama. 2002. Indeterminate pronouns: The view from japanese. In Proceedings of the 3rd Tokyo conference on psycholinguistics, ed. Y. Otsu, 1–25. Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo.

  94. Lahiri, U. 2002. Questions and answers in embedded contexts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  95. Lauer, S. 2009. Free relatives with -ever: Meaning and use. Stanford qualifying paper.

  96. Lewis, D. 1973. Counterfactuals Oxford: Blackwell; revised printing 1986.

  97. Lewis, D. 1975. Adverbs of quantification. In Formal semantics of natural language, ed. E.L. Keenan, 3–15. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  98. Lewis D. (1988) Relevant implication. Theoria 54: 161–237

  99. Lin, J. 1996. Polarity licensing and wh-phrase quantification in Chinese. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

  100. Lycan, W. 1991. Even and even if. Linguistics and Philosophy 14: 115–150.

  101. Matsui, A. 2008. Constructing concessive conditionals in Japanese. M.A. thesis, Michigan State University.

  102. McCloskey, J. 2006. Questions and questioning in a local English. In Cross-linguistic research in syntax and semantics: Negation, tense and clausal architecture, ed. R. Zanuttini, E. Herburger, H. Campos, and P. Portner, 127–148. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

  103. Menéndez-Benito, P. 2006. The grammar of choice. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

  104. Nishigauchi, T. 1990. Quantification in the theory of grammar. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  105. Novel, M., and M. Romero. 2010. Movement, variables and Hamblin semantics. In Proceedings of SuB 14, ed. M. Prinzhorn, V. Schmitt, and S. Zobel, 322–338. Vienna: University of Vienna.

  106. Nute, D. 1975. Counterfactuals and the similarity of worlds. Journal of Philosophy 72: 773–778.

  107. Percus, O. 2000. Constraints on some other variables in syntax. Natural Language Semantics 8: 173–229.

  108. Poesio, M. 1996. Semantic ambiguity and perceived ambiguity. In Semantic ambiguity and underspecification, ed. K. van Deemter and S. Peters, 159–201. Stanford: CSLI Publications.

  109. Pruitt, K. 2008. Mapping prosody to interpretation in alternative questions. Poster presented at the 21st CUNY conference on human sentence processing.

  110. Pruitt, K., and F. Roelofsen. 2010. Disjunctive questions: Prosody, syntax and semantics. Manuscript, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

  111. Pullum G.K. (1973) What’s a sentence like this doing showing up in English?. York Papers in Linguistics 3: 113–115

  112. Quer, J., and L. Vicente. 2009. Semantically triggered verb doubling in Spanish unconditionals. Paper presented at CGG 19, University of the Basque Country.

  113. Rawlins, K. 2008a. (Un)conditionals: An investigation in the syntax and semantics of conditional structures. Ph.D. dissertation, UC Santa Cruz.

  114. Rawlins, K. 2008b. Unifying if-conditionals and unconditionals. In Proceedings of SALT 18. Ithaca, NY. CLC Publications.

  115. Reich, I. 2009. What asymmetric coordination in German tells us about the syntax and semantics of conditionals. Natural Language Semantics 12: 219–244.

  116. Reynolds, N. 2007. Whatever and free choice: Beyond episodicity. M.A. thesis, UC Santa Cruz.

  117. Rizzi, L. 1997. The fine structure of the left periphery. In Elements of grammar, ed. L. Haegeman, 281–337. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  118. Roberts, C. 1996. Information structure in discourse: Towards an integrated formal theory of pragmatics, 1998 revision. In OSUWPL volume 49: Papers in semantics Columbus: The Ohio State University Department of Linguistics.

  119. Roelofsen, F., and S. van Gool. 2009. Disjunctive questions, intonation, and highlighting. In logic, language and meaning. Proceedings of the 17th Amsterdam Colloquium, ed. M. Aloni et al, 384–394. Berlin: springer.

  120. Romero, M. 2010. Alternative-based semantics combined with movement: The role of presupposition. Talk at Workshop on Alternative-Based Semantics Nantes, October 2010.

  121. Rooth, M. 1985. Association with focus. PhD thesis, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

  122. Rullmann, H. 1995. Maximality in the semantics of wh-constructions. PhD thesis, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

  123. Schlenker, P. 2004. Conditionals as definite descriptions (a referential analysis). Research on Language and Computation 2 (3): 417–162.

  124. Schulz, K. 2008. Non-deictic tenses in conditionals. In Proceedings of SALT 18, ed. T. Friedman and S. Ito, 694–710. Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications.

  125. Schwarz, B. 1999. On the syntax of either …or. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 17 (2): 339–370.

  126. Schwarzschild, R. 1999. Givenness, AvoidF and other constraints on the placement of accent. Natural Language Semantics 7: 141–177.

  127. Searle, J.R. 1969. Speech acts Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  128. Shan, C. 2004. Binding alongside Hamblin alternatives calls for variable free semantics. In Proceedings of SALT 14, ed. K. Watanabe and R.B. Young, 289–304. Ithaca,NY:CLC Publications.

  129. Shimoyama J. (2006) Indeterminate phrase quantification in Japanese. Natural Language Semantics 14: 139–173

  130. Simons M. (2001) Disjunction and alternativeness. Linguistics and Philosophy 24: 597–619

  131. Simons, M. 2005. Dividing things up: The semantics of or and the modal/or interaction. Natural Language Semantics 13: 271–316.

  132. Soames, S. 1989. Presupposition. In: Handbook of philosophical logic IV, ed. D. Gabbay and F. Guenthner, 553–616. Dordrecht: Reidel.

  133. Srivastav V. (1991) The syntax and semantics of correlatives. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 9: 637–686

  134. Stalnaker, R. 1975. Indicative conditionals. Philosophia 5: 269–286.

  135. Stalnaker, R. 1978. Assertion. In Pragmatics, ed. P. Cole, 315–332. New York: Academic Press.

  136. Stump, G. 1985. The semantic variability of absolute constructions. (Revised version of 1981 Ohio State University dissertation.) Dordrecht: D. Reidel.

  137. Traugott, E. 1983. Conditional markers. In Iconicity in syntax, ed. J. Haiman, 289–310. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  138. Tredinnick, V. 2005. On the semantics of free relatives with -ever. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.

  139. Vlachou, E. 2007. Free choice in and out of context. Utrecht: LOT.

  140. von Fintel, K. 1994. Restrictions on quantifier domains. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

  141. von Fintel, K. 2000. Whatever. In Proceedings of SALT 10, ed. B. Jackson and T. Matthews, 27–40. Ithaca, NY:CLC Publications.

  142. von Fintel, K. 2001. Conditional strengthening: A case study in implicature. Manuscript, MIT.

  143. von Fintel, K., and I. Heim. 2010. Intensional semantics, spring 2010 edition. Lecture notes, MIT.

  144. von Fintel, K., and S. Iatridou. 2005. What to do if you want to go to Harlem: Anankastic conditionals and related matters. Manuscript, MIT.

  145. von Stechow, A. 1991. Focusing and backgrounding operators. In Discourse particles, ed. W. Abraham, 37–84. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  146. Xrakovskij, V.S. ed. 2005. Typology of conditional constructions München: LINCOM Europa.

  147. Zabbal, Y. 2004. A compositional semantics of the French expression n’importe qu. Manuscript, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

  148. Zaefferer, D. 1990. Conditionals and unconditionals in universal grammar and situation semantics. In Situation theory and its applications I, ed. R. Cooper, K. Mukai, and J. Perry, 471–492. Stanford: CSLI Publications.

  149. Zaefferer, D. 1991. Conditionals and unconditionals: Cross-linguistic and logical aspects. In Semantic universals and universal semantics, ed. D. Zaefferer, 210–236. Dordrecht: Foris.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Kyle Rawlins.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rawlins, K. (Un)conditionals. Nat Lang Semantics 21, 111–178 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11050-012-9087-0

Download citation

Keywords

  • Conditionals
  • Questions
  • Alternative semantics
  • Indifference