Short shot #35: paratactic conditionals

Conditionals can be expressed hypotactically, with the antecedent in a subordinate clause marked by if; or paratactically, with the antecedent and consequent simply juxtaposed:

[hypotaxis] If you break it, you bought it.

[parataxis] You break it, you bought it.

In paratactic examples the semantic relationship between the two clauses is not explicitly marked and has to be “worked out”.

Parataxis can be taken one step further, as in this example I overheard at a neighborhood restaurant last week, from a man interviewing a candidate for a job:

Any questions you have for me, just give me a call.

with the first part of the sentence conveying ‘if there are any questions you have for me; if you have any questions for me’.

I’m not sure what the range of such conditionals is. The any appears to be crucial, since some won’t do to convey ‘if there are some questions you have for me; if you have some questions for me’:

??Some questions you have for me, just give me a call.

But other any-words work:

Anything you want to know, just ask me.

Anyone you’d like to see, just tell me.

4 Responses to “Short shot #35: paratactic conditionals”

  1. Jonathan Lundell Says:

    Questions? Just call me.

  2. rhhardin Says:

    “Any” goes in a nonassertive contexts, perhaps functioning as marking a nonassertive context in this case.

  3. Jonathan Lundell Says:

    “In paratactic examples the semantic relationship between the two clauses is not explicitly marked and has to be “worked out”.”

    Depending on what we mean by “semantic relationship”, isn’t this true of some hypotactic examples as well? The host of our local NPR call-in show likes to say, coming back from a commercial break (sad, isn’t it?), “If you’re just joining us, we’re talking to…”. There’s certainly some “working out” needed to recognize that this is not an ordinary conditional. Though “working out” may not be the best way to put it, in either case; we understand these locutions without any real work.

  4. empty Says:

    No shirt, no shoes, no service.

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