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 Post subject: "If X were to..."
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:19 pm 
Avisaru
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Is there a grammatical case for "If X were to..."? I ask because Welsh has a specific way of saying things like "If I (were to) go, you would stay": "taswn i'n mynd, baset ti'n aros" (I think... if I have remembered correctly), where "taswn" means "if I were to" and "baset" means "you would". If "baset" is the conditional, what is "taswn"?

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 Post subject: Re: "If X were to..."
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:59 pm 
Avisaru
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English "were" is traditionally called the "past subjunctive" or just "subjunctive". This terminology can be somewhat unclear, because "be" in sentences like "It is important that you be punctual" is also traditionally called the subjunctive. While "be" and "were" can be distinguished as the "present subjunctive" and "past subjunctive" respectively, the constructions don't primarily have a tense relationship in modern English. To try to avoid this confusion, Huddleston and Pullum's CGEL call the "were" construction "irrealis" (see this Language Log post: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/language ... 01192.html). The corresponding German forms are just called Konjunctiv I and II (Konjunctiv II is the one used in counterfactuals alongside a conditional).

Naming these kind of constructions is quite language-dependent; I don't know what the conventional name for the Welsh verb form is.


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 Post subject: Re: "If X were to..."
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:38 pm 
Sanno
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Jonlang wrote:
Is there a grammatical case for "If X were to..."? I ask because Welsh has a specific way of saying things like "If I (were to) go, you would stay": "taswn i'n mynd, baset ti'n aros" (I think... if I have remembered correctly), where "taswn" means "if I were to" and "baset" means "you would". If "baset" is the conditional, what is "taswn"?


First: needlessly confusing phrasing! "Is there a grammatical case for..." can mean either "is there a morphological case used for" or "is there an argument on grammatical grounds for"... and neither applies here! No, there isn't a case, because this isn't a noun, and it's nouns that have case. Took me a few minutes to work out what you were asking...

Second: in the sentences "if I ate crisps, I would be an astronaut" and "If I were to name him 'Harold', you would eat him", the first clause is a protasis, and the second clause is an apodosis. The protasis specifies the conditions, and the apodosis specifies what happens in those conditions. Hence, if there are dedicated constructions for these, they may be called 'protasic' and 'apodosic'.

[Another pair of terms with similar or identical meaning is "antecedent" and "consequent".]

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 Post subject: Re: "If X were to..."
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:21 pm 
Sanno
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Jonlang wrote:
Is there a grammatical case for "If X were to..."? I ask because Welsh has a specific way of saying things like "If I (were to) go, you would stay": "taswn i'n mynd, baset ti'n aros" (I think... if I have remembered correctly), where "taswn" means "if I were to" and "baset" means "you would". If "baset" is the conditional, what is "taswn"?

It's just a variant form of the conditional. If you put the conjugations side-by-side, you'll see the only difference is the initial consonant:

taswn i/baswn i
taset ti/baset ti
tasai e/basai e
etc.

So if you need a dedicated descriptive term for it, I'd follow Sal's proposal (although I'm more of a stickler for etymological derivations) and go with "protatic conditional".

I'm not sure where the alternation comes from historically but it's already present in literary Welsh, viz. petaswn vs buaswn. (That's actually the literary pluperfect; the colloquial "conditional" represents the merger of several distinct conjugations leading to quite a bit of modern dialectal variation.)


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