Counterfactuals · Jos Tellings



My dissertation "Counterfactuality in discourse" (UCLA, June 2016) investigates the effect of discourse on counterfactual inferences in conditionals. I provide novel data that illustrate the focus-sensitivity of counterfactual inferences: in combination with certain focus particles, and when pronounced with certain intonation contours, counterfactual conditionals do not trigger some counterfactual inferences that would otherwise arise. In the analysis I propose, the link between the topic-focus structure of conditionals and the generation of counterfactual inferences lies in the pragmatic phenomenon of conditional perfection (the strengthening of conditionals into biconditionals).