Mental Spaces in Grammar: Conditional Constructions by Barbara Dancygier

By Barbara Dancygier

Conditional structures have lengthy interested linguists, grammarians and philosophers. Eve Sweetser and Barbara Dancygier supply a brand new descriptive framework through broadening the diversity of research. utilizing a gamut of English conditional buildings, they discover concerns similar to the compositionality of constructional that means, describing either the mental-space construction procedures underlying conditional pondering, and the form-meaning courting interested in expressing conditionality.

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Most of these parameters apply quite generally, not only to conditionals. They are available as part of the apparatus involved in constructing the interpretation of a conditional. For example, the function of supplying the background to a prediction (Dancygier 1993, 1998; Dancygier and Sweetser 1996, 1997) is filled by many conditional and temporal clauses, and the knowledge that such functions are commonly served by these forms is part of the framework required to explain their interpretation.

In some cases, conditional space building seems not to set up a basis for prediction but to give the appropriate setting for a speech act, or to state the premises which led to an expressed conclusion (van der Auwera 1986; Sweetser 1984, 1990). The speaker of If I don’t see you before Thursday, have a good Thanksgiving! 8 Aspects of conditional form are correlated with the contrast between predictive function and non-predictive functions, such as speech-act conditionality. In particular, note the impossibility of a different verb form here: If I didn’t see you before Thursday, have a good Thanksgiving!

Work in Relevance Theory is a good example; see Sperber and Wilson 1986, 2002; and related work in Relevance Theory; for a relevance-theoretic account of conditionals in particular, see Smith and Smith 1988. 6 27 Where we’re headed We now turn to the analysis itself. The book is to some extent a tour of English conditional constructions. Since mental spaces are one of our most basic analytic tools, we begin by showing that traditional categories of conditionals, as well as some less traditional but well-supported categories, can be systematically mapped onto semantic and pragmatic structures involving mental-space configurations.

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