In addressing a question at the semantics-pragmatics interface of
how conditionals in English should be categorised, this paper addresses the
underlying question: what is a conditional? Conditionals in English are very
often associated with the canonical pattern ‘if p then q’. But while the word 'if'
provides a simple function to aid us in expressing our conditional thought, it
goes without saying that conditional thought does not go hand in hand with
the single word 'if'. This paper explores some of the ways that conditionals
may be expressed in English without using if by presenting observations
obtained from the International Corpus of English (ICE-GB) combined with
results from previous empirical studies (e.g. Declerck & Reed 2001). In doing
so, this paper considers the question what exactly it is to be a conditional,
proposing some criteria to guide the categorisation of conditional expressions.
In turn, this paper aims to shed some light as to why conditionals using 'if'
are so often focussed upon.
|Name||Cambridge Occasional Papers in Linguistics|