----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jim Henry" <[log in to unmask]> 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Sunday, December 19, 2010 10:46:55 AM 
Subject: Re: Modality+ of hope/wish/want/etc 

On Sat, Dec 18, 2010 at 9:09 PM, Sai <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 
> What are the semantic and pragmatic distinctions among "want", "wish", 
> "hope", etc.? Is any one of them simply "has positive-valence attitude 
> towards the possibility"? Do they bundle in a belief as to its 
> truth/falsity? Do they bundle in a belief as to its plausibility? Other 
> things? 

Consulting my native-speaker intuition and not doing any kind of 
corpus analysis, I'd say that "want" is more likely to be used in 
contexts where the desired thing/event is plausible and potentially 
within the subject's control, but doesn't necessarily imply either of 
those things. "Wish" and "hope" imply that the matter is beyond the 
subject's control, and of the two, "hope" may imply greater 
plausibility than "wish". "Wish" is especially likely to be used with 
very unlikely, nigh-impossible counterfactuals; also, perhaps, "hope" 
implies that the subject cares more deeply about the matter than if 
"wish" were used. 

> What does your conlang do with these? 

What I would consider a European, particularly Romance, subjunctive gets divvied up in GĂ©arthnuns among the speculative, the conclusive, and the hortative. "Je veux qu'il *vienne*." gets the speculative, and I feel it has the same vibe. "Qu'il vienne!" goes hortative (which also has jussive and rather limited imperative functions). Any "if...then.." statements have the "if" part in the speculative and the "then" part in the conclusive, hence the name of these moods. Irrealis is marked abverbally, so "If I can go, I will." and "If I could go, I would." look the same but for an adverb (or a *particle*, if you will, but it's traditionally thought of as an adverb). I think Romance conditionals would more likely than not end up in the conclusive. Which brings us to the task at hand. 

If the subject of both the main and subordinate clause is the same, there are an array of things resembling an English infinitive. So, "I want to...," "I hope to...," and "I wish to..." would look very familiar except that GĂ©arthnuns is SOV and not SVO, so your predicate results may vary. If the subjects differ, you would get something familiar to someone who knows European languages. As above, "I want that he comes." 

I want that 
I hope that 
I wish that 

with different subjects all feel like they'd kick in the speculative. Since, as has been mentioned, "wish" often delves into the counterfactual or lower plausibility ratios, I think the irrealis adverb would come into play. "I wish I had..." certainly would.