Event Detail

Fri Mar 14, 2014
1303 Dwinelle, 3–5 PM
Eva Csipak (Universität Göttingen)
Decisions and factive subjunctives

In this talk I discuss subjunctive data from German.

(1) Da wäre Pizza im Kühlschrank. There is.SUBJ pizza in the fridge.

A speaker can use (1) in a context where she knows that there is, in fact, pizza in the fridge – in those cases, (1) has the flavour of an offer. I show that using (1) presupposes the existence of a decision problem, and that the subjunctive in (1) signals that the speaker is contributing to the decision problem in a particular way: knowing that there is pizza in the fridge is relevant for a decision maker who has certain preferences. The speaker signals that she is ignorant about her interlocutor’s preferences. I use a decision theoretic model to show the effect of an utterance like (1) on the decision problem of the agent, and I discuss how this effect is carried over into relevance conditional utterances, and the difference between (2) and (3).

(2) Wenn du Hunger hast, da wäre Pizza im Kühlschrank. If you are hungry, there is.SUBJ pizza in the fridge.

(3) Wenn du Hunger hast, da ist Pizza im Kühlschrank. If you are hungry, there is.IND pizza in the fridge.