Cognitive-discursive features of conditional utterances

Moscow State Linguistic University
Issue 50

The paper is devoted to the study of the functioning of conditional utterances in English discourse. The object of this article is conditional utterances of two semantic-pragmatic types, which differ both in their logical-semantic structure and in the ability to activate one or another type of illocutionary frame. The activation of the frame structure in this case is understood as the implementation of the corresponding illocutionary function, which occurs within the framework of a typical scenario. The purpose of this article was to study the cognitive-discursive features of conditional utterances on the material of the English language. The material of the study was fragments from works of modern fiction from the COCA and the BNC corpora. In the course of the study, it was found that conditional utterances are able to activate four types of frame scenarios, performing specific illocutionary functions in them and conveying a wide range of pragmatic meanings. In the study of prototypical conditional utterances, the main attention was paid to the features of the interaction of such utterances with modality. It is shown that conditional utterances, which not only express hypotheticality, but also have a modal component in their semantic structure, participate in the more precise division of the epistemic scale, betraying two variants of the value of the estimated hypothetical possibility. The novelty of the study lies in the scrutiny of the pragmatic features of conditional utterances of a specific type - indirect conditional utterances, which differ in their properties from standard conditionals. The result of the study was both the establishment of the general function of indirect conditional utterances, and the identification of their particular pragmatic functions in each of the considered types of speech-act interaction. The paper shows that the main pragmatic functions of indirect conditional utterances within the directive illocutionary frame are the expression of politeness, the decrease or increase in the categoricalness of the utterances and conveying expressiveness. In some cases, indirect conditional utterances are purely etiquette in nature and represent one of the hedging methods. In this sense, we can consider that conditional constructions of this type act as discursive markers that have a purely pragmatic function. In the declarative-expressive type of speech interaction, the main function of indirect conditional utterances is to increase the involvement of the addressee in the ongoing interaction. Cases of combining two illocutionary functions in one and the same statement were also considered.

For citation

Smurova, O. V. (2023). Cognitive-discursive features of conditional utterances. Issues of Applied Linguistics, 50, 130-156.

This artiсle is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.