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Re: Complex sentences involving conditionals

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  • Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
    ... Sorry for waiting so long to send an actual reply, but thanks to the other replies (and some Wikipedia reading) I am now more confident in answering this
    Message 1 of 17 , Nov 30, 2011
      On 19 November 2011 18:44, Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...> wrote:

      > In your natlangs that you know, in your conlangs that you've made, and in
      > natlangs that you know about:
      Sorry for waiting so long to send an actual reply, but thanks to the other
      replies (and some Wikipedia reading) I am now more confident in answering
      this post. All my answers will be about my conlang Moten.

      Before I start answering the different parts of your post, I need to add a
      disclaimer: conditionals in Moten are quite different from what is done in
      most languages. The main difference is that in Moten the protasis is *not*
      a subclause of the apodosis. Indeed, in Moten both the protasis and the
      apodosis are simply juxtaposed (or coordinated) independent clauses, that
      are only related through semantics. The protasis can be recognised because
      its finite verb takes the hypothetical conjugation, while the verb of the
      apodosis doesn't (other finite verbal conjugations are the past and
      non-past, or present).
      OK, actually, it's possible to make conditionals using a combination of a
      subclause added on a main clause. But in Moten, it's the *apodosis* that
      becomes the subclause of the protasis. This is done by putting the verb of
      the apodosis in the consecutive form, a form used to make subordinate
      clauses of consequence ("so that"). This construction is not used very
      often though, and only when the apodosis precedes the protasis. In general,
      the two clauses are grammatically independent.
      This has two important consequences:
      - it's possible to have dangling protases, i.e. conditions without their
      consequences. Those are not considered especially marked in Moten, and
      needn't always be translated as conditions in other languages.
      - the questions about the apodosis or the protasis themselves being
      conditionals do not make much sense, as everything is on the same level.
      Just use more than one protasis.

      So, now onto the actual questions (I'll try to give examples as well).

      > Do you have "conditional" modalitie(s)/mode(s)/mood(s) for either the
      > protasis
      > clause or the apodosis clause of conditional statements like
      > "if P then A"?
      > Only for the apodosis?
      > Only for the protasis?
      > The same for both the apodosis and the protasis?
      > One (or more) for the apodosis, and (a) different one (or more) for the
      > protasis?
      > Nothing special for either?
      > One for the apodosis when the protasis is realis, and a different one for
      > the
      > apodosis when the protasis is irrealis?

      OK, those are plenty of questions that are best answered together.

      First, Moten doesn't have a specific "conditional" mood. The hypothetical
      conjugation is not a mood, but a form of the finite verb on par with the
      past and the present. What it does have though, is a smattering of voices,
      aspects, moods and modalities (12 of them all to be exact, 13 if you add
      the imperative/hortative which is special) that can all be used in the
      protasis and the apodosis. The form used in the protasis does have the most
      influence on the meaning of the conditional. As for the apodosis, it is
      often in the prospective aspect, but not always.
      Second, conditionals in Moten don't neatly fall in the usual scale from
      certainty to counterfactual. In fact, this scale is rather secondary in
      Moten (Moten doesn't even distinguish between unlikely and counterfactual
      conditionals!), and even where it counts, Moten makes distinctions that
      don't exist in most European languages.
      To illustrate this, here are a few examples of conditionals in Moten, all
      coming from the upcoming post on Moten verbs I've been working on for
      nearly two years (!). However, in order to understand the examples, I need
      to explain a few things about Moten verbs. Basically, in Moten only two
      verbs have finite forms: _atom_: "to be" and _agem_: "to have". Those verbs
      have three finite forms: the present, the past, and the hypothetical. Other
      verbs have only non-finite forms: the infinitive or verbal noun, and the
      participle or resultative noun. The are conjugated periphrastically: put
      one of those two non-finite forms in one of the available noun cases:
      nominative, accusative and genitive, followed by one of the auxiliaries.
      This makes 12 different forms, each with 3 shades of meaning depending on
      the form of the finite verb. Those 12 forms correspond to aspects, moods,
      modalities and voices.
      With this out of the way, here are the examples themselves:

      Badej juba|si patok, mjean jagi ito.
      bad<e>i i-uba|s-i pa-to-k, mj<e>an i-ag-i
      Dog<ART> INF-come-INF IRR-be-NPRS, cat<ART> INF-go-INF PRS-be.
      When the dog comes, the cat always leaves.
      In this case, both the protasis and the apodosis are in the perfective
      aspect (nominative infinitive + to be), so the conditional is a gnomic one,
      indicating general truths and automatic consequences, hence the translation
      of the protasis with "when" rather than "if".

      Ba |negdin patok, Poldisun istudu|lun ige.
      ba i-neg<d>-i-n pa-to-k,
      You.SG INF-do<ACC.SG>-INF-ACC IRR-be-NPRS, police<ACC.SG>-ACC
      i-st<d>ul-i-n i-ge.
      INF-call<ACC.SG>-INF-ACC PRS-have.
      If you keep doing that, I'll call the police.
      Here, the protasis is in the imperfective aspect, and the apodosis in the
      prospective aspect, to focus on the factor of cause and effect.

      Bdan ezde|sun patok!
      b<d>a-n ez<d>et-z-n pa-to-k!
      I wish I had listened to you!
      Here is an example of a dangling protasis, with the verb in the weak
      situational modality (may, should, ought to). Although I didn't translate
      it with "if" here, the form makes sense if you think of it as a lament: "If
      only I had listened to you!".

      Ba |negdin pagek, Poldisun istudu|lun ige
      ba i-neg<d>-i-n pa-ge-k,
      You.SG INF-do<ACC.SG>-INF-ACC IRR-have-NPRS, police<ACC.SG>-ACC
      i-st<d>ul-i-n i-ge.
      INF-call<ACC.SG>-INF-ACC PRS-have.
      From now on, if you do that (on purpose), I'll call the police.
      Compared to the second example, in this case the protasis is also in the
      prospective aspect, indicating a condition that has not been fulfilled yet
      but may be in the future.

      Jagvi pagek, gdan stul!
      i-ag<v>-i-i pa-ge-k, g<d>a-n stul!
      INF-go<GEN.SG>-INF-GEN IRR-have-NPRS, I<ACC.SG>-ACC call!
      When you leave, call me!
      Here, the translation is somewhat misleading. The verb of the protasis is
      in the strong epistemic modality, which indicates a high probability that
      an action happens or has happened (equivalent to "must"). When used in a
      protasis it indicates a condition that will probably be fulfilled, but not
      completely certainly. It's more probably than a normal condition though,
      hence a translation with "if" would be equally misleading. Truly, it's a
      form that cannot be translated without paraphrasing.
      Note how the apodosis is in the imperative here.

      Ga agduzun pagek, ipenluda|n ige.
      ga ag<d>-z-n pa-ge-k,
      i-penl<d>a-i-n i-ge.
      I go<ACC.SG>-PTCP-ACC IRR-have-NPRS, INF-await<ACC.SG>-INF-ACC PRS-have.
      If I left, they would wait (for me).
      The verb in the protasis is now in the weak epistemic modality ("might"),
      with the verb of the apodosis in the prospective aspect to emphasize the
      relation between the two clauses. This is the form to use to form unlikely
      or counterfactual conditions. In fact, as it is, this form can also have a
      counterfactual meaning ("If I had left, they would have waited for me") or
      an meaning of unlikelihood in the future ("If I were to leave, they would
      wait for me"). The tense of the finite verb in the apodosis does not
      influence the meaning of the conditional, and the only way to know which
      one is meant is context.

      As you can see, the interlinears are a mess. Moten's liberal use of
      combinations of infixes, suffixes and circumfixes (it also uses prefixes in
      other places!) and its complex morphophonology mean that I don't usually
      bother with them. But hey, here you have them this time. See if you can
      understand them! ;)

      > What if the protasis is itself a conditional, as in
      > "If (if P[sub]P[/sub] then A[sub]P[/sub]) then A"?
      Maybe my thinking is a bit simplistic, but isn't this equivalent to "If PP,
      then AP, and if AP, then A"?

      > What if the apodosis is itself a conditional, as in
      > "If P then (if P[sub]A[/sub] then A[sub]A[/sub])"?
      This looks equivalent to "If P and if PA, then AA".

      > What if both the protasis and the apodosis are themselves conditionals, as
      > in
      > "If (if P[sub]P[/sub] then A[sub]P[/sub]) then (if P[sub]A[/sub] then
      > A[sub]A
      > [/sub])"?
      A combination of both: "If PP, then AP, and if AP and PA, then AA"?

      As I wrote, in Moten the protasis and the apodosis are independent clauses,
      so effectively those recursive constructions just don't exist, since there
      is no subordination in the first place. So basically, those constructions
      are usually simply rendered through the flattened versions I gave.

      > Can you chain conditionals?
      > If you do, what happens?
      > For instance what about
      > "If P[sub]0[/sub] then (if P[sub]1[/sub] then (if P[sub]2[/sub] then A))"?
      > What about
      > "If (if (if P then A[sub]2[/sub]) then A[sub]1[/sub]) then A[sub]0[/sub]"?
      In principle, it's possible to put the apodosis in the hypothetical, which
      would make it in turn the protasis of another apodosis. In practice, such
      sentences don't look different from sentences where an apodosis has more
      than one protasis (i.e. more than one conditions are juxtaposed or

      > What do you do about interrogative conditionals?
      > What do you do about imperative conditionals?
      > Is there any distinction between an interrogative conditional and a
      > conditional
      > question?
      > Is there any distinction between an imperative conditional and a
      > conditional
      > imperative?

      Still not sure what you mean here. In any case, as you've seen in the
      examples I gave, in Moten the apodosis can be any kind of clause, including
      one with an imperative. In the same way, the apodosis can also be a
      question if necessary. I don't think it's semantically possible for the
      protasis to be imperative or interrogative.

      OK, that's about all I have to say on this subject. I hope this helps.

      For those who want more info on how the Moten verbs work, my upcoming blog
      post about Moten verbs should be ready before the end of the year. After
      two years working on it, it's finally coming to an end!
      Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.

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