The mood of the unreal condition in modern English



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In this dissertation an attempt is made to give a trustworthy history of the Mood of the Unreal Condition in Modern English. This history is based upon a statistical survey of mood-usage in a range of authors and works, British and American, sufficiently varied in type and widely enough distributed chronologically to give a fair insight into the trends of such usage during the last three centuries. Preliminary to that study, I give, in the Introduction, a brief conspectus of scholarly opinion concerning the Mood of the Unreal Condition in English, especially during the Modern-English period. As is explained in the Introduction, the need of such a study as that undertaken in this dissertation is attested by two facts. In the first place, there is considerable diversity of opinion among grammarians concerning the extent to which the Indicative has encroached upon the Subjunctive in the Unreal Condition in Modern English. In the second place, no appreciable body of statistical information concerning the Mood of the Unreal Condition in Modern English seems to have been gathered. Hence grammarians and other writers upon historical syntax usually rely upon a few illustrative examples alone to support their statements concerning mood-usage in the Unreal Condition. A word concerning the method of presenting the material in each chapter in which works are statisticized is in place here. Early in each chapter are presented typical examples of the several methods of expressing an Unreal Condition in the works studied in that chapter. Next are given some synoptic tables, which enable the reader to grasp, at a single view, the distribution of the various types of examples in the works or authors studied in that chapter. There follows an interpretation of the statistics, in which the more significant features of mood-usage, in the Unreal Condition, in the several types of works are set forth. A brief analytical summary of the results of the study embodied in the chapter concludes the interpretation of the statistics. Miscellaneous observations concerning subordinate facts are relegated to the notes, which follow the summary of the results. Alphabetic indices of the verbs of Indicative and those of Subjunctive form are found in Appendix A. For the sake of economy of space, my earlier plan to include similar indices of the verbs of Indeterminate Form expressing an Unreal Condition had to be abandoned