What asymmetric coordination in German tells us about the syntax and semantics of conditionals

  • Ingo Reich

Abstract

Although there is a vast amount of literature on the semantics of conditionals, there is usually little said about the way conditionals are interpreted compositionally. And if there is, it is often suggested that it suffices to consider conditionals like “if S1, then S2”, taking for granted that coordinate structures like “if S1 and S2, then S3” can be reduced in form to the former, for it seems quite obvious that coordination takes place within the syntactic scope of if (i.e., we have “if [S1 and S2], then S3”). In this paper, I will argue that this is not obvious at all. I will show that there is good empirical evidence that (at least) in the case of so-called Asymmetric Coordination in German (Ho¨ hle 1990) coordination does not take place within the syntactic scope of if (i.e., we have “[[if S1] and S2], then S3”). This apparently gives rise to a mismatch between syntax and semantics, which —if I am right— can only be (straightforwardly) resolved in a Lewis/Kratzer approach to the semantics of conditionals. To account for some problems related to distributive readings, I will finally propose that if is to be interpreted as a variable picking up a modal base in context.
Published
2019-08-15
How to Cite
Reich, I. (2019). What asymmetric coordination in German tells us about the syntax and semantics of conditionals. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 11, 463-478. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2007.v11i0.658