The irreality of alternatives
Towards a typology of disjunction
This paper investigates the variety of morphosyntactic strategies that languages use to encode the relation of alternative between states of affairs. A semantic deﬁnition of disjunction will be given, based on the notion of alternative meaning proposed by Dik 1968. After deﬁning the functional domain under investigation, it will be shown that languages encode the notion of alternative between states of affairs in different but non-random ways. Speciﬁcally, many languages do not have a disjunctive connective, but rather encode the concept of ‘alternative’ by means of the same strategies used for other irrealis domains, such as dubitative, hypothetical or interrogative. Two main implicational patterns will be identiﬁed, which will prove irreality to be a basic aspect of disjunction.
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