Chapter 10. There is grammar relativity galore

Tall as mountain peaks, language goals and targets are reasonably high (chapter 6.5). We get higher, when we aim high. We yet should not view our targets as solid rock only. With Modal verbs and patterns such as the Conditional or Unreal Past, we need to think about something we might picture as reflection of language form.

 

Let us see if we could integrate the The Modal time frame with guidance on the Unreal Past or the Conditional.

 

*****

 

 

There has been much dispute over the Conditional. Some grammarians reject it altogether. Let us remember that labeling does not change the objective language reality. It cannot decide on how linguistic forms may work within human discourse.

 

*****

 

We do not have to adopt the Conditional. We can use Conditional patterns, to compare language forms. We mind our target grammatical time, the PRESENT, PAST, and FUTURE.

 

We can practice with the verb to have. It can mean keeping something, tolerating something, or eating something. As a syntactic verb, HAVE may provide the auxiliary time for Modal verbs. Let us look to the syntax and negotiation of meaning: how do we eat a cookie and have it?

 

Our cookie is perfectly digestible. To choose on the word sense, we can underline the have to mean keeping, tolerating, or eating. We look to the premise (if you eat the cookie) and the consequent (you do not have it).

 

ZERO CONDITIONAL

 

GRAMMATICAL TIME: PRESENT
__PRESENT field

91. If you eat the cookie, you DO NOT have it.

 

LANGUAGE FORM: PRESENT

If you eat {PRESENT}, you DO {PRESENT} NOT have

 

LANGUAGE FORM PRESENT__TARGET TIME PRESENT

 

1ST CONDITIONAL

 

GRAMMATICAL TIME: FUTURE
__FUTURE field

91a. If you eat the cookie, you WILL NOT have it.

 

LANGUAGE FORM: PRESENT

If you eat {PRESENT}, you WILL {PRESENT} NOT have

 

LANGUAGE FORM PRESENT__TARGET TIME FUTURE

 

We began our journey viewing WILL in the PRESENT Field of Time.

 

Verb form will regarding three fields

 

We can compare Modal uses of WILL
53. She WILL be reading now.
(I am sure she is reading now.)

 

2ND CONDITIONAL

 

GRAMMATICAL TIME: PRESENT
__PRESENT field

91b. If you ate the cookie, you WOULD NOT have it.

 

LANGUAGE FORM: PAST

If you ate {PAST}, you WOULD {PAST} NOT have

 

LANGUAGE FORM PAST__TARGET TIME PRESENT

 

3RD CONDITIONAL

 

GRAMMATICAL TIME: PAST
PAST field

91c. If you had eaten the cookie, you WOULD NOT have had it.

 

LANGUAGE FORM: ANTECEDENT PAST

If you had eaten {ANTECEDENT PAST}, you WOULD NOT have {ANTECEDENT PAST} had

 

LANGUAGE FORM BEFORE A PAST TIME__TARGET TIME PAST

 

4TH (MIXED) CONDITIONAL

 

GRAMMATICAL TIME: PAST and PRESENT

__PAST AND PRESENT

 

91d. If you had eaten the cookie, you WOULD NOT have it.

 

LANGUAGE FORM: ANTECEDENT PAST and PAST

If you had eaten {ANTECEDENT PAST}, you WOULD {PAST} NOT have

 

LANGUAGE FORM__MIXED CONDITIONAL PATTERN
MIXED CONDITIONAL PATTERN, CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

We have marked our HAVES: If you HAD eaten the cookie, you WOULD NOT HAVE had it then. The syntactic HAVE is green. The head verb, the notional HAVE is mauve and underlined. It may mean keeping, tolerating, or. . . eating something. We can compare examples about Chantelle Règle having her extra Larousse, in Chapter 8.1.

 

Syntax can make us prone to interpret the notional HAVE as keeping something, in examples as 91a―d, though we can have meals as well as eat them.
__Smiley PNG

 

Do we have to adopt the Conditional, to use Conditional patterns? Let us compare ideas. Some grammars will say we use the First Conditional when the probability of something is high, and we use the Second for things more probable than those in the Third. Grammars that reject the Conditional support structures they name the Unreal Past. Let us consider the probability for saying,

 

92. If I WERE you, I WOULD . . .
(Please find the comment on the use of WERE also in exercise 62.)

 

*****

 

Skimming can be part an effective learning strategy. We can go backward and forward in our study guides, to get a picture of the language itself. The more study guides, the better.

__Smiley PNG

 

*****

 

The PROBABILITY to become another human individual literally and ever really is ZERO, for everyone.

 

92a. *I AM you . . . / *You ARE me . . . ?
(There is zero probability, even if someone pretends another person.)

 

Example 92 could be the Second Conditional or Unreal Past. Regardless of the label, it conveys zero probability, for the PRESENT, PAST, as well as FUTURE.

 

What would be if he were …

 

Trouble

 

… if he were her … and she were him …?

Alice

 

Bob says an unreal past could not exist without an unreal present or future, and he really wants to go to the Himalayas. Alice says there never could be literally such a time as unreal time; just as well, you could try to have a cat for an unreal dog.

__Smiley joke PNG

 

Chantelle says the world’s worst advice she ever got always began with someone saying, “If I were you…” She skips the phrase owing to her language economy, also when she listens. She feels different about saying or hearing, “If I were in your shoes…”

 

Mature African American woman eating healthy salad in kitchen

 

“I’d have fresh veg every morning.”

__Smiley PNG

 

Bob is not thinking about the high Himalaya: he is too small. It is not only in highest mountainous areas that we may want to manage, however.

 

quickdraw

 

93. If you HAD NOT taken care of it, this handle WOULD HAVE broken off.

 

Utah

 

Within the probability approach, example 93 is the 3rd Conditional, which tells about the least probable events. The example yet might be telling about a prevented thing.

 

Let us think about probability a little further.

 

93a. If you take care of this handle now, it still MIGHT work.
(The probability is low.)
1 cube__no temporal reference

 

We can transform the example and say,

93b. If you take care of this handle now, it WILL work.
(The probability is very high.)
5 cubes__ no temporal reference

 

Both 93a and 93b could receive the same label of the First Conditional, and they differ in PROBABILITY very much. In 93a, taking care of the handle is probable to result in its working. In 93b, the probability amounts to CERTAINTY. Taking care of the handle is sure to bring a working condition.

 

PROBABILITY is not going to explain on the use of forms. Let us try LINGUISTIC RELATIVITY.

 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 

“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, American President

 

Let us sum up. For theory or guesswork, we can use
PRESENT verb forms to speak about the FUTURE,
PAST forms to speak about the PRESENT,
and
ANTECEDENT PAST forms to speak about the PAST.

 

Feel welcome to
10.1. The time frame on linguistic form relativity.

 
Link 10.1. Linguistic form relativity -- the time frame
 

Advertisements