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From:Gerald Koenig <jlk@...>
Date:Sunday, November 8, 1998, 3:07
                        ON THE SUBJUNCTIVE

Classical grammarians such as Opdycke define the subjunctive mood as a
form of predicate modification that declares the action or state of the
verb is "supposed, imagined, or contrary to fact". A modern grammarian,
Sedly, defines the subjunctive as a device to " conditions that
are perceived by the ..writer to be impossible or contrary to fact (or at
best, highly unlikely), as well as for future events the speaker
perceives as desirable, or necessary, to bring about." A net linguistic
glossary definition is "a modality that connotes that the proposition
with which it is associated is non-actual or non-factual." "Modality may
be defined as the set of 'speaker attitudes' which are grammaticalized
in languages" -Claire Bowren. The potential (possible, probable) and
counterfactual modalities are universally found, according to Bowren,
and so we can say that the subjunctive mood is a language universal.

I have previously defined for nilenga Vector Time Tense (VTT) that
modality consists of that speaker grammar which is directed toward
modification of the binary truth claim of an entire simple
proposition. The subjunctive mode detaches the associated proposition
from direct correspondence to reality, leaving it in doubt, in the realm
of the imagination only, or sometimes even falsifying it by claiming it
impossible. The task for VTT is to represent the manifold traditional
varieties of the subjunctive modal claim in as clear, compact, and
unambiguous forms as is possible; and also to enrich the range of
expression of this most important language of the imagination.

For VTT I define the subjunctive as a small, usually two predicate,
virtual reality. It has its own imaginary or irrealis timeline distinct
from the actual, historical, or future timelines used in VTT. None of
the definitions given above sharply discrimminate the future
subjunctive from the simple future, a matter I am putting on hold for
another post, and I am relying on the intuitions of the reader to know
the difference.

I have coined 5 modal declarative words to express the subjunctive. One
is a calque of the English subjunctive. The others express specific
subjunctive meanings. VTT subjunctives are tensed with VTT tense
particles and there is a clean divorce between tense and subjunctivity
grammar in VTT. The exposition will proceed from examples of each type
to more formal definitions.

Ex 1. ROR

a. indicative:
"If the cat is here, I don't see her."  This leaves open the possibilty
that the cat is here somewhere.

b. subjunctive:
1. "If the cat were here, I would see her". This means that it is
contrary to fact, irrealis, that the cat is here.

1'. "ROR the cat is here, I don't see her". This is the VTT form.

ROR means irrealis or contrary to fact.

IRREALIS: " A modality that connotes that the proposition with which it
is associated is nonactual or non-factual"

Formal definition:

ROR::-wo (he/she/one) says suppose that "p" is imagined only, in-mind
only, and irrealis; ie "p" is nonactual or nonfactual. Used for some
contrary to fact conditions.

!!-----@vvvvvvvvv>-----[+]----> This is the virtual ROR timeline.
       subj-event      vmu

!----------------------[*]-----> This is the real, in fact, timeline.

ROR puts "p" on the virtual timeline only. The clocks run the same on
both timelines by default, if they are not moving relativisticly.
Unlike the English subjunctive use of "if" which subordinates only one
clause which it heads, the VTT subjunctives (except the English clone,
ROF) have default scope over all the propositions from the beginning to
the end of the sentence. To change the subjunctivity of second and
following main clauses a different VTT modal is inserted in front of
them in the sentence.  This means that the unseen cat in EX.1' is by
default a virtual cat, the one in the speaker's mind.

Ex. 2: INRO

1."If lightspeed were 2c, Einstein would turn over in his grave."
1' "INRO lightspeed is 2c, [si] Einstein is turning over in his grave."

2. "If 2+2 were equal to 7, Peano would rise from the dead."
2' "INRO 2=2 equals 7, Peano si rise from the dead"
si means concurrently.

Both the subordinate clause and the main clause are declared impossible
in these examples due to the default scope of the modals.

No diagram is possible for INRO, or at best an MC Escher
illusionary structure.

INRO::- wo says suppose that "p" is impossible. Used for some contrary
to fact conditions.

Ex. 3: ROS
[Below is a much edited recent quote from our esteemed moderator, DGD]

1. "If Mark were lurking, he would help. If you're lurking, hi Mark!"

Taking these two perfectly good English sentences together, it is clear
that the sense is that it is not entirely contrary to fact that Mark is
lurking, as the surface subjunctive form of the first one suggests.
This sentence is rendered with ROS:

1'." ROS Mark lurks, he will help"

ROS::- wo says suppose that "P" is imagined and possibly also real, ie,
in-mind and possibly out-mind. (The out-mind possibility can be
quantified with modals). Further, if "P" (subordinate clause) is
factual, so is "Q", the main clause.


ONE OF the LEFT PAIR or the RIGHT pair; ROR or ROM.

!!V-------@vvvvvv>--[+]---->  OR:   !!V-------@vvvvvvv>----[+]--->
!-------------------[*]---->         !--------@=======>----[*]--->

         ROR                                 ROM

Suppose the sense of the example were, that David imagines that Mark
will help, but he won't even though he is lurking. Then

1'' " ROS Mark lurks, ROR he will help"

says that Mark may be lurking, and whether he is or not, David only
imagines that he will help.

ROM: wo asserts that wos virtual world and wos factual world Match.

above right.

ROF::-A calque modal which allows any of the above uses and anything
that English allows. It has scope over only the subordinate "if"
clause, as is usual in English. For a time sequence "then" use se. For
a simultaneous truth of the main clause as in necessarily true
statements, use si for "then".

Gerald Koenig


This post shall not be construed as a proselytization for or a
condemnation of any language, natural or constructed.  Any Conlanger is
free to use these words and concepts for any nonprofit purpose.