Conditionals, modality, and Schrödinger’s cat. Conditionals as a family of linguistic qubits

Costas Gabrielatos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

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An intriguing characteristic of conditionals is that they are modally dense constructions, without being modal markers themselves. This chapter will examine the modal nature of conditionals through the lens of construction grammar. It will be argued that the main utility of conditionals does not lie in pairing conditions with consequents, nor in establishing the factuality or actualisation of conditions and consequents, but in leaving issues of factuality or actualisation unresolved. The chapter proposes that conditional constructions are better regarded as environments of indeterminacy, in that they modalise what is communicated through them. More precisely it will be argued that conditionals can be usefully treated as the linguistic equivalent of quantum bits (qubits). The chapter will also discuss the characteristics that define the family of conditional constructions, and those differentiating between family members.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRe-Assessing Modalising Expressions. Categories, co-text, and context
Subtitle of host publicationCategories, Co-text, and Context
EditorsPascal Hohaus, Rainer Schulze
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9789027260529
ISBN (Print)9789027207913
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameStudies in Language Companion Series
ISSN (Print)0165-7763


  • Conditionals
  • Construction grammar
  • Corpus linguistics
  • Modality
  • Qubits


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