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Thread: Subjunctive

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Subjunctive

    The problem to be discussed is whether 'should' is a subjunctive form or not..
    In form, no, but in meaning, why not?
    In form, no. That's clear enough.
    If the only element of 'subjunctiveness' is in its meaning, then we are far better off with terms such as hypothetical, counterfactual, etc. which actually convey a meaning.
    Subjunctive itself only 'means' "that is subjoined" (OED).
    Webster's 3rd is, as usual, more prolix: "of, relating to, or constituting a verb form or set of forms that represent an attitude toward or concern with a denoted act or state not as a fact but as something entertained in thought as contingent or possiible or viewed emotionally (as with doubt, desire, will)".

    In form, should is not subjunctive. That is what I have maintained from the beginning.
    In meaning, should is no more subjunctive than doubt or perhaps.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Subjunctive

    So far the only argument in favour of should being regarded as a subjunctive form has been along the lines of, “A should-construction has the same meaning as a verb in the subjunctive mood. Therefore should is a subjunctive form.” The flaws in this line of argument should (!) not need to be pointed out, though I have indicated a couple.

    Pokemon is not impressed that, “a few authors, Chalker, Greenbaum et al., share your opinion”. Those I chose do know something about English Grammar*. If it were not so tedious, I would produce the opinions of almost every authority on English grammar of the 20th century who share my opinion. The backing of such authorities does not prove my case, but saves me the bother of repeating at length here what they have written

    I think the onus is now on those who believe that should is a conditional form to demonstrate convincingly that it is. Cited support from professional linguists would be helpful.


    *
    Sidney Greenbaum: Quain Professor of English Language and Literature, University College London 1983-90, Director of the Survey of English Usage, 1983-96, Co-author of A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language; The Oxford English Grammar.

    Frank R Palmer: Professor of Linguistic Science, University of Reading 1965-1984., Author of Grammar, Mood and Modality, A Linguistic Study of the English Verb, Grammar and Meaning.

    Sylvia Chalker: Researcher at the Survey of English Usage, University College London. Author of Current English Grammar, Co-author of the Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar, Contributor to the Oxford Companion to the English Language.

  3. #13
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    [The issue under discussion] is whether 'should' is a subjunctive form or not.
    My contribution (be it ever so succinct) is that 'should' is not a subjunctive (in) form, and is misleading as such in constructs that appear to express a condition contrary to fact:


    Second Conditional

    • If she were to change her mind, then...
      • Were she to change her mind
        • Meaning: she hasn't changed her mind, and she won't.





    should-Conditional <for lack of a better term>

    • If she should change her mind, then...
      • Should she change her mind
        • Meaning: she hasn't changed her mind, but she might!



    See Conditional Sentences--Alternate Forms

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    My contribution (be it ever so succinct) is that 'should' is not a subjunctive (in) form, and is misleading as such in constructs that appear to express a condition contrary to fact:
    Second Conditional

    • If she were to change her mind, then...
      • Were she to change her mind
        • Meaning: she hasn't changed her mind, and she won't.


    I feel that this utterance still allows the possibilty, however remote, that she might change her mind.

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    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Pokemon is not impressed that, “a few authors, Chalker, Greenbaum et al., share your opinion”.
    In all fairness, I felt the same as Pokemon had. It wasn't the authorities cited that failed to sway my opinion, as I share the same opinion, but rather the way in which their ideas were presented that had me somewhat lost, and in need of clarification (especially where you interpreted Chalker's words on the mandative subjunctive).

    I want to know what people think, but more importantly why they think it so that I can make an informed decision, on my own.


    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I think the onus is now on those who believe that should is a conditional form to demonstrate convincingly that it is. Cited support from professional linguists would be helpful.
    For most people, even the authorities, a simple explanation presented clearly would suffice.

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    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I feel that this utterance still allows the possibilty, however remote, that she might change her mind.
    Agreed that is 'allows for possibility', but one that remains unreal, as is the condition. Conversely, in our should-conditional, the possibility is real (but rather remote): she might change her mind (cf. in case she changes her mind).

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    For most people, even the authorities, a simple explanation presented clearly would suffice.
    In discussion of this nature, when the idea presented is contrary to what is generally accepted*, then I would have thought that a pretty solid argument, preferably referenced, would be expected.
    However, I can live with a simple explanation, if it's logical.

    *And the italicised words are not just my opinion. I could back them up if required.

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    Default Re: Subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    In discussion of this nature, when the idea presented is contrary to what is generally accepted*, then I would have thought that a pretty solid argument, preferably referenced, would be expected.
    Referenced, yes, but solid and logical, it wasn't (at least not to me).

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    *And the italicised words are not just my opinion. I could back them up if required.
    I'm still working on trying to understand why you would use italics to do that (wouldn't using italics confuse the reader, especially if the reader didn't know what the italics were meant to represent?)

  9. #19
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    Default Re: Subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I will be surprised if he changes his mind.

    According to your line of reasoning, changes is subjunctive. But it isn't.
    Hello,

    Does this mean that verbs in a clause containing 'possibly/perhaps/reportedly/etc' are subjunctive?
    I have not frequently asked myself this question. Let me think. No, it does not mean that. Even at times when these adverbials are missing but the epistemic sense is there, as in

    If I was you, I would.,

    no subjunctive form is used.

    Subjunctive depends on the type of construction at work, on the degree of formality, and on whether standard or non-standard, on whether old English or modern English, on whether AmE or BrE, is used.

    On the other hand, morphological changes are rarely obvious to the naked eye.
    When 'should' is used in these senses,

    Definition of should modal verb (POSSIBILITY) from Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus ,

    and someone asks me, I say "yes, subjunctive". No change in form, though.

    According to your line of reasoning, changes is subjunctive. But it isn't.
    No subjunctive. Indicative. Why? Epistemic adverbials do the job. Modality is not always conveyed by verbs. Probably that is why no subjunctive verb form is needed. An epistemic adverbial and an indicative verb form will suffice. No?


    As far as I understand, both of you agree that 'should' expresses here epistemic modality.
    Me, yes.

    Do you believe that modality can be expressed both grammatically and lexically or only grammatically?
    Modality is related to meaning and with the meaning goes often hand-in-hand the change in form of verbs. That is what I think.
    Last edited by corum; 04-Dec-2010 at 15:11.

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    Default Re: Subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    The problem to be discussed is whether 'should' is a subjunctive form or not..
    In form, no. That's clear enough.
    Zero inflection (unchanged form) necessarily means that no resort has been made to the subjunctive conjugational system?

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