Re Conditional sentences

Date: Thu May 09 1996 - 22:04:26 EDT

Ron and others have contributed some very insightful comments about this
thorny subject. I would only add that there is no real need to translate
EI in a different way from "if", and indeed I think to do otherwise may
inadvertantly confuse the context. The so-called first class condition does
not of itself indicate anything about the reality of the protasis (as has
been said), so the speaker seems to use it often to his rhetorical advantage
by posing as hypothetical a condition that he expects his listener or op-
ponent will accept as true (sometimes an ad hominem argument). His hope then
is that the listener/opponent will also agree with the truth of the apodosis
as logically necessitated by the protasis. The same thing can be done with a
"third class" condition, the difference being that it is a general (if the
shoe fits, wear it) condition while the first class looks at a particular
situation (to paraphrase Smyth). The rhetorical force of either it that the
speaker (hopefully) forces his listener/opponent to admit the protasis to
both of them (typo above, it = is); otherwise the speaker would be simply
asserting something about his listener (e.g. "since you..." instead of "if

Don Wilkins
UC Riverside

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