Re Conditional Sentences

Date: Wed May 15 1996 - 17:06:54 EDT

Just to elaborate on my earlier comments, there is no connection between
the idea of the indicative as the mood of reality and the actual truth of a
statement in the indicative (most lies are told in the indicative), and
there is no need to assume the reality of a "first-class" protasis, at least
not in the sense of whether the protasis is true or not. One opponent may
very well hypothesize an ad hominem condition in the hope of forcing the
apodosis upon the other (as the temptor does to Jesus), but grammatically it
is still left to the other opponent to choose whether to accept the protasis
as true or not. So in one sense grammar has little to do with the actual
rhetoric, but in another sense it has everything to do with it because it
provides the user a framework for that rhetoric. Bruce's point about the
first class condition with an imperative apodosis is pretty well taken, I
think. I believe that a search of this vs. EAN plus subjunctive will reveal
that the logic is the same, but the former refers to a particular situation
while the latter refers to a general truth ("if the shoe fits, wear it").
Sometimes the distinction is very subtle, but it always seems to be there.
For example, John uses the latter construction several times in 1 Jo 1 where
he is obviously addressing his readers, but I think he uses the "general
truth" approach to be more sensitive to his readers and allow them in effect
to decide for themselves what conditions apply to them.

Don Wilkins
UC Riverside

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