AG 14 (Short session) - Modelling conditionality

Session organizers

Eva Csipak (U Göttingen) & Ryan Bochnak (U Berkeley)


Conditionals are a particularly interesting part of language because they offer insight into the way humans reason about possibilities. While analyses traditionally focus on the syntax and semantics of English hypothetical conditionals, other languages employ different strategies to talk about conditionality. Recently there has been an effort to broaden the focus from modelling only English hypothetical conditionals to include other languages (e.g. Halpert 2012 for Zulu), other types of conditionals (e.g. Franke 2009, Kaufmann and Schwager 2011, Condoravdi and Lauer 2012, Ippolito 2013), and insights from language processing (e.g. Fugard et al. 2010). Nonetheless modelling the interaction of different types of conditionals with tense and mood remains a difficult challenge to compositional semantics. This workshop aims to provide a forum to discuss models for the syntax and semantics of different conditional constructions in natural language (particularly understudied languages, but also English and German), and to challenge these models with experimental data. Topics for the workshop include, but are not limited to, the following questions:

  1. What constructions are used cross-linguistically to express conditionality, and how shouldthis shape current theories of conditionals? How do these constructions influence ourunderstanding of the nature of modals in general?
  2. How do recent analyses of relevance conditionals (wenn du Hunger hast, ist da Pizza im Kühlschrank), anankastic conditionals (wenn du etwas essen willst, kannst du zu Salvatore gehen) and Imperative-and/or-Declarative constructions (Iss den Obstsalat und/oder du darfst nicht fernsehen) hold up when tense and mood come into play?
  3. Does data from language processing support current theories of the syntax and semanticsof conditionals? Can a probabilistic theory account for the “quirky“ non-hypothetical conditionals?

Selected references:

  • Franke, Michael. 2009. Signal to Act. Doctoral dissertation, Universiteit Amsterdam.
  • Ippolito, Michela. 2013. Subjunctive Conditionals. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
  • Kaufmann, Stefan & Magdalena Schwager. 2011. A Unified Analysis of Conditional Imperatives. In Proceedings of SALT 19, 239-256. CLC publications.


  9:00 Kai von Fintel (MIT)  
    Conditionals without if  
  10:30 Cleo Condoravdi (Stanford) & Sven Lauer (Konstanz)  
    Hypothetical facts and hypothetical ideals in the temporal dimension  
  11:00 Break  
  12:00 Anna Mönnich (Saarland)  
    „Wenn du deine Augen zumachst, dann kann dich keiner sehen.“ On the semantics of conditionals sentences in L1 acquisition  
  12:30 Fabienne Martin (Stuttgart/Paris 8)  
    Tense and aspect in swing conditionals  
  11:30 Janneke van Wijnbergen-Huitink (Groningen)  
    Differences in counterfactual strength explained  
  12:00 Gabriel Roisenberg Rodrigues (Michigan State) & Ezra Keshet (Michigan)  
    Conditional Conjunctions in Brazilian Portuguese  
  12:30 Robert Külpmann (Wuppertal) & Vilma Symanczyk Joppe (Wuppertal)  
    Argument omission in conditional imperatives  

Deviations from the original schedule

The talks by Hara, Wurm & Ferraresi, Asfawwesen and Karawani were cancelled.