What 'If'?

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Abstract
No existing conditional semantics captures the dual role of 'if' in embedded interrogatives — 'X wonders if p' — and conditionals. This paper presses the importance and extent of this challenge, linking it to cross-linguistic patterns and other phenomena involving conditionals. Among these other phenomena are conditionals with multiple 'if'-clauses in the antecedent — 'if p and if q, then r' — and relevance conditionals — 'if you are hungry, there is food in the cupboard'. Both phenomena are shown to be problematic for existing analyses. Surprisingly, the decomposition of conditionals needed to capture the link with interrogatives provides a new analysis that captures all three phenomena. The model-theoretic semantics offered here relies on a dynamic conception of meaning and compositionality, a feature discussed throughout
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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2014-05-02

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