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Conditional sentences

 

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  #21  
Old October 13, 2009, 03:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjt33 View Post
Prescriptivist nonsense!
Indeed!

The following is a general comment, not directed at anyone in particular.

Given everything I've said above to help Irmamar try and make sense of this issue, I still come down to the fact that only each individual knows what they are trying to say with a particular attempt at communication. If we happen to share agreement in the way the communication is to be understood, that's great. But even if we aren't in 100% agreement, many times the core idea is communicated anyway and I don't think it's useful nor forthright to deny that for the sake of "propriety". Not that precise or stylized communication doesn't have its place, it's just that in many settings neither precision nor style are needed (or wanted).

Trying to capture a living language into a finite set of static rules is doomed to failure. And that gives me great joy! But it is fun and useful to analyze things to see how they function.
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  #22  
Old October 13, 2009, 03:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloudgazer View Post
No problem with the asking more questions.

Yes, whether introduces two or more alternatives into a situation. Here's an example with three alternative choices:

Ex 1: Whether I tell him at breakfast, at lunch, or at dinner, he'll be happy.

If there is only one alternative presented, the other alternative is the negative of the first.

Ex 2: Whether I tell him, he'll be happy. = Whether or not I tell him, he'll be happy. = Whether I tell him or not, he'll be happy.

In both examples one of the choice is expected (and in this case, regardless of the choice, he'll be happy.)
I would flag

*Whether I tell him, he'll be happy.

It doesn't sound grammatical to me.


Also, for the record, I consider

Ask him whether he likes peas or corn.
Ask him if he likes peas or corn.

to be completely interchangeable. Trying to rationalise my instinct, it occurs to me that in either case the person who receives the instruction and follows it simplistically is going to ask "Do you like peas or corn?", so while there is a slight difference of register the semantic content appears to be the same.
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  #23  
Old October 14, 2009, 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by pjt33 View Post
Prescriptivist nonsense!
Yes indeed - I don't know how that happened, but I gave the wrong link - I must have copied the wrong address, and can no longer find the one I intended. Sorry about that.
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  #24  
Old October 14, 2009, 04:46 AM
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Originally Posted by pjt33 View Post
I would flag

*Whether I tell him, he'll be happy.

It doesn't sound grammatical to me.
This is not only incorrect, it is ambiguous. As I see it, it could mean

1) If I tell him, he'll be happy
(i.e. he will only be happy if I tell him)

2) Whether I tell him or not, he'll be happy
(i.e. he will be happy even if I don't tell him)
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  #25  
Old October 14, 2009, 12:14 PM
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I'm very grateful to everybody . Anyway I need time to study these sentences, I had never thought that it could be so complicated, I'm really surprised.

By the way, sometimes I like to study a language in a prescriptive way, really I don't mind, since this is the way I've studied my own language. Yes, maybe we could compare the rules of a living language to a caged eagle, but maybe first we have to study a prisoner bird to understand its flying.

As I'm an absolute ignorant about this subject, I have found the link quite interesting, but I'll be careful.

Anyway I'm quite grateful for your help and, as this subject is not my objective in this year, I'll put it off until I'll have enough time to study carefully the difference between if and whether, since I think it's quite interesting. At this moment, I have enough with my conditional sentences
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  #26  
Old November 21, 2009, 11:52 AM
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Interesting post on the two types of "if": http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1912
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