All the replies have been interesting. David wrote … The unreal can be marked by 1. Past tense (e.g. English, Bantu, Athabascan) 2. Modal forms (e.g. Greek and Latin) 3. A special subordinator, as enquired about (Greek, Serbo-Croat). Actually I think I have come across why the CF or unreal is so often expressed by the past tenses in the languages of the world (it will take me a few more days to find the word to explain it all). Part of the reason I started this thread was to find out if it is common-knowledge or not. I came across a paper on the internet about a week ago … In an imperfect world : deriving the typology of counterfactual marking … by Bronwyn M. Bjorkman and Claire Halpert … DRAFT October 2012 What they wrote was OK. However they never mentioned why CF was so strongly aligned with past tense in many languages of the world. Has anybody got any idea what percentage of languages have CF aligned with past tense ? It seems to me that he default mode for a language is to fall into the usuage "CF expressed by past tense”. I presume that the language lacking this usuage have some sort of structure that stops then sliding down the slope to "CF expressed by past tense”. From the perspective of conlanging, "CF expressed by past tense” seems quite messy to me. But I suppose if you were after naturalism ... > On May 6, 2018, at 12:03 AM, David McCann <[log in to unmask]> wrote: > > On Sat, 5 May 2018 09:45:36 +0800 > Stewart Fraser <[log in to unmask]> wrote: > >> I would like to open a discussion about how languages express >> contingency situations and counter factual situations (from now on C >> and CF). > > Actually, we can distinguish several types of conditional. > > 1. Real > 1a. Present > "If it’s raining" > 1b. Past > "If you’ve read the report" > 2. Hypothetical > 2a. Generic > "If you pull this lever" > 2b.Future > 2b1. Expected > "If he comes" > 2b2. Unexpected > "If he came" > 3. Counterfactual > 3a. Unrealised > "If he had come" > 3b. Impossible > "If I were you" > > Languages may draw the line between the real and the unreal in various > places. English (and many other languages) between 2b1 and 2b2, while > others between 2a and 2b. Some (e.g. Chinese) don't distinguish 2b1 and > 2b2. > > The unreal can be marked by > 1. Past tense (e.g. English, Bantu, Athabascan) > 2. Modal forms (e.g. Greek and Latin) > 3. A special subordinator, as enquired about (Greek, Serbo-Croat). > > Serbo-Croat has different subordinators, "ako" for real conditionals > but "da" for counterfactuals. > Ako je došao, videću ga. "If he has come, I shall see him" > Da je došao, video bih ga. "If he had come, I should have seen him." > > Classical Greek had a particle used in the counterfactual, although it > appeared in the main clause rather than the condition: > Ei epraxe touto, kalōs ekhei. "If he did this, it was good." > Ei epraxe touto, kalōs an eskhen [past]. "If he had done this, it > would have been good."