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On Thu, 2 Jul 2009 16:28:35 -0700, Paul Hartzer <[log in to unmask]> 
wrote:
>This (and your other examples) is extremely hard to parse for me, even if it's 
>technically well-formed English. Here's something that work much better for 
>me:
>"If you're going to want some pie if you finish your vegetables, you'd better 
>finish your vegetables while they're still warm."
>[snip]
>This works for me:
>"If you're going to want some pie if you finish your vegetables, you'd better 
>eat them quickly if you really hate cold vegetables as much as you say you 
>do."
>although I prefer:
>"If you're going to want some pie if you finish your vegetables, and you really 
>hate cold vegetables as much as you say you do, then you'd better eat them
>quickly."
>-- Paul

Thanks, Paul.  I like your examples.

You're right about the awkwardness of the "If if" in English.  No-one here has 
said it wasn't awkward AFAICT, nor has anyone said it's outright 
ungrammatical.  Opinions, it seems to me, seem to vary from my "it's just a 
little awkward" to Alex Fink's "it's about as awkward as it can get without 
being outright ungrammatical".

But, as far as natlangs go, I'm mostly concerned about those languages in 
which either the protasis or the apodosis or both must be put in a 
(the?) "conditional" mood.

For the "IF, (if X then Y), THEN, Z" type complex conditionals, there are two 
apodoses (is that the correct plural?), namely Y and Z.  What if one is realis 
and the other is irrealis? Does that complicate things?

For the "IF X, THEN, (if Y then Z)" type, there are two protases (again: is that 
the correct plural?), namely X and Y.  What if one of them is  realis and the 
other is irrealis? Does that complicate things?

English doesn't require either the protasis or the apodosis to be put in 
a "conditional" mood.  Modern English doesn't have a conditional mood; the 
obsolescentescent subjunctive mood could reasonably have been used on one 
of them, were it sufficiently doubtful, but perhaps even old-fashioned speakers 
of Middle or Modern English mightn't have required either the protasis or the 
apodosis to be subjunctive; conceivably both might have been allowed to be 
indicative.

But some languages do require, for instance, the apodosis, to be in a 
conditional mood; and/or some do vary the handling of the apodosis's mood 
depending on whether the protasis is realis or irrealis. And some, IIUC, require 
the protasis to be in a special "conditional" mood (maybe the same one the 
apodosis is required to be in).

On ZBB someone has answered for French and someone has answered for 
German.  I think also someone tried to answer for Swedish and Finnish, but 
this had not yet been accepted the last time I looked.

What other natlangs do folks here know about? 

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Aside from Natlangs, I've wondered about folks' Conlangs.

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On Thu, 2 Jul 2009 21:21:08 -0400, Alex Fink <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>As several have pointed out, though, such things are massively awkward in
>English, and only rephrasings to avoid "If if ..." (and ideally not to have
>two "if"s in close proximity at all) are things I can really imagine people
>saying, outside of disfluency and such.  So in a language where the protasis
>needs a special mood, I wouldn't be surprised if directly putting a
>conditional in the protasis of a conditional is _formalisedly_ awkward, that
>is to say ungrammatical ;-)

Alright; suppose it's the apodosis, rather than the protasis, which must be in a 
conditional mood (I think that's more common anyhow).

>Anyway, there are workarounds retaining the two "if"s but with a sort of
>buffer clause in the middle (in addition to more drastic rewritings dropping
>an "if"): I could say "if it's the case that, if you finish ... then ...
>pie, then you'd better finish ...".  A natlang with conditional mood could
>apply it with no problems to the verb of "be the case" in this structure.
>I'm tempted to adduce a comparison to negation. 
>[snip]

Speaking of such things, how about:
"that that"
"had had"
"is is"
the first two of which come up in "correct" written English, the third in informal 
colloquial spoken English?

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