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  1. #11
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    I take your point. I won't use google results as an argument in future.
    I hope I didn't appear to be maligning google. I often wonder how I managed BG - before google. The point I should have made clear was that the number of hits does not tell us much about how an expression is used, or even if it's generally accepted. What google leads us to can be very helpful.

    Sorry to go off topic, but I wanted to clarify that.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    I surely do get tired of hearing all these "but unfortunately now..." and "regrettably, it now seems to be" and "sadly, now it's used..."

    The English that was taught 200 years ago would sound odd to you -- agreed? So what is so magical about the way some of our members were taught 20, 30, or 50 years ago? That was the "right" English -- not the silly old-fashioned stuff and not this awful, new stuff? We're so darn special that whatever WE were taught is the right way and any furher evolution of the language is simply a sad indication of deterioriation instead of evoliution?

    Please. 'Nuff said. I won't return to this thread.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #13
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Don't use google to justify any claims about language. I have just googled 'ain't', and got eighty million hits. Other search engines gave between thirty and over two hundred million hits. There are millions of ain'ts floating around, but that does not mean that the word is acceptable in normal written English, or even, normally, in speech between reasonably educated speakers.

    The corpora are better guides, though it is dangerous to use just the raw figures even with these. As a matter of interest, COCA gives 232 examples of 'what will happen if' and 952 for 'what happens if'. Some of the latter were like this:

    What happens if you become dissatisfied with your registrar's service and want to switch providers?

    In this example, one could argue that the writer was asking about a general situation rather than a future one, so will would not be appropriate. However most of the first fifty or so examples that I looked quickly through clearly referred to future times.

    The results surprised me. At the moment I can think of nothing useful to add to the discussion.
    Google can act as a corpus, used reasonably. I agree that a handful of hits won't prove anything, but millions may mean something.

    As for "what happens if" I find it quite normal. Sports broadcasters like to use the formula to show a generalisation within the proposition, with the added meaning of "generally" or "usually", as though one can extrapolate future outcomes from a single observation.

  4. #14
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Dear probus,

    Thanks a lot for your reply. I will content with what you say and - willy-nilly - put up with the situation. Although there is more on my mind to comment on the matter, I`m afraid, I have to restrict myself tonight simply to these few lines. Yet, I am sure there will be more phenomena in store for us that will lead us back to that point sooner or later. For the time being, all the best!

    Hucky

  5. #15
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Dear fivejedjon,

    If you please, I´d like to hear what the situation concerning our issue is like on the British Isles. And may I ignorantly and, thus, humbly (with cap in hand) ask you what COCA stands for and what it is? Could you please put an end to my firmly rooted ignorance? (Ignorance is not always bliss.) Thanks in advance!

    Hucky

  6. #16
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hucky View Post
    And may I ignorantly and, thus, humbly (with cap in hand) ask you what COCA stands for and what it is?
    Hover over COCA and the truth is revealed.
    Last edited by 5jj; 13-Mar-2011 at 08:49.

  7. #17
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Hover over COCA and the truth is revealed.
    I would not have asked you unless I had exactly done this. (I had even tried to find the answer to the question via more channels.) By the way, I have almost any relevant source on whatever aspect of the English language at my disposal at home to be consulted. But that does not make up for the competence of a linguistically educated native speaker. That is why I have never asked about (and will never ask about) grammar or other rules, but about the present state of affairs and the respective points of views on it. What is more, my questions never imply any evaluation or judgement, but reflect merely my neutral interest in the latest developments of the English language. Besides, there is not the slightest doubt that there are temporal clause constructions with a present simple in the main clause referring to a generalized present action. This is the so called zero-conditional. But this is not what I was driving at. My original example clearly refers to the future and to nothing else but the future: The presenter asked an expert on foreign affairs about what he thought would happen in Libya in case of a NATO attack. This is no stuff like: What happens when you attack Libya? - Whenever /every time we attack Libya, some of our machines get shot down.

    P.S. It might be interesting to learn that the renowned Cambridge Grammar based on enormous statistical material puts the will-future in the first place in terms of the frequency of usage among all the structures referring to the future. I do not feel like verifying it now - I could easily if needs be - but off the cuff I reckon there are at least 10 constructions in English to express the future.

  8. #18
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hucky View Post
    I would not have asked you unless I had exactly done this.
    I assumed that you asked because you had not done this.
    Besides, there is not the slightest doubt that there are temporal clause constructions with a present simple in the main clause referring to a generalized present action. This is the so called zero-conditional.
    There are also constructions with will in one or both clauses that could be interpreted as zero conditionals:

    If you heat ice, it will melt.
    If you will drink so much, of course you'll have a hangover.
    off the cuff I reckon there are at least 10 constructions in English to express the future.
    Well, there are nine if you just start with the core modals. When I mentioned (at least) five, I was referring to the five English constructions that are normally used to express what in some other languages may be expressed with a future tense: present simple, present progressive/continuous, BE + going to, will + bare infinitive and will + progressive infinitive.

  9. #19
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I surely do get tired of hearing all these "but unfortunately now..." and "regrettably, it now seems to be" and "sadly, now it's used..."

    The English that was taught 200 years ago would sound odd to you -- agreed? So what is so magical about the way some of our members were taught 20, 30, or 50 years ago? That was the "right" English -- not the silly old-fashioned stuff and not this awful, new stuff? We're so darn special that whatever WE were taught is the right way and any furher evolution of the language is simply a sad indication of deterioriation instead of evoliution?

    Please. 'Nuff said. I won't return to this thread.

    Dear Barb_D,

    Although you might not read this anymore – as you announced not to return – I cannot leave your lines unanswered, even if I can do so in no more than a nutshell. What is more, I am none of your adressees as I cannot be counted among those linguistic defeatists or alarmists. I tried to find out whom you could have had in mind by reading the previous messages again. But I failed to identify someone who this characterization could apply to. Anyway, even if that had been the case, I deem it just a question of individual taste, liking, or preference, and thus of personal freedom to regret or to welcome whatever development, not just in the sphere of language. No one is compelled to share that same point.


    What I do regret, however, is that your main paragraph is based on a false assumption. As far as I can see no one in this thread has puffed up himself as an absolute authority claiming that “his” English (what a strange concept of language!) is the “right” one (as you put it). And fortunately human beings are not mere products of their respective time, but are capable of transcending it. (Notwithstanding this ability the undeniable phenomenon of narrow-mindedness does exist.)


    Moreover, the time span of a few decades that you mentioned is relatively irrelevant in terms of the intrinsic development of a language. Talking about development, it is just a platitude, a mere commonplace to state that everything is subject to development. What on earth is not? Who denies that?



    Besides, the concept of development is neutral about the level reached during this process. It does not logically imply the idea of an upward movement in terms of improvement and advancement. Any development is principally open to rise and fall, and may turn out to be a downturn or decline. So it is wrong to suppose that everything that has surfaced is in itself better or higher than previous stages of development. Taking that into consideration, it is recommendable to adopt a twofold attitude towards any development – a positive, yet not uncritical stand. The responsibility of man demands to foster cultural achievements – one of the most valuable of them is language.

    Hucky

  10. #20
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    Google can act as a corpus, used reasonably. I agree that a handful of hits won't prove anything, but millions may mean something.

    As for "what happens if" I find it quite normal. Sports broadcasters like to use the formula to show a generalisation within the proposition, with the added meaning of "generally" or "usually", as though one can extrapolate future outcomes from a single observation.
    Dear konungursvia,

    I do go along with your first paragraph in saying that it means something (i.e. not nothing), but not everything. No need to point out the enormous number of partly horrifying blunders (to put it mildly) in linguistic (and factual) terms on websites.



    As to the example mentioned in your second paragraph: Don´t you think that – although this kind of action is related to an unforeseeable outcome of an action in the future – it is still treated like a generalization, and has thus to be considered a zero conditional?


    May I add a question about the way you couched one statement? You wrote: “… broadcasters like to use …” Why didn´t you take the gerund after the verb to like?


    Looking forward to learning from you about that.

    Hucky

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