A Coronavirus Corpus-driven Study on the Uses of If- Conditionals in the Pandemic Period

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Napanant Montkhongtham


The COVID-19 pandemic, has greatly affected the lives of everyone. One major concern during this period has been that of communication including content dealing with possibilities and ideology concerning freedom. This
study aims to analyze the application of if-conditionals expressing options and possibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic using data in the Coronavirus Corpus developed in May 2020 by Mark Davies. The extracted if-conditionals were divided in accordance with Puente-Castelo’s (2017) framework of if-typology, and grammatical aspects of all the verb strings were also analyzed in terms of tense and aspect, sentential modality, and voice. It was discovered that speech act conditionals—relevance conditionals—were most commonly applied to provide specific suggestions to deal with the pandemic. The second and third-ranked choices, scoperestricting conditionals and hypothesizing conditionals helped to specify scopes and definitions and to emphasize possibilities and predictions or statistical estimates based on evidence, respectively. The grammatical aspects also corresponded to the COVID situation and helped to convey messages in accordance with the if-conditional functions. The results suggest that the if-construction provides communicative functions fitting various contexts relating to the pandemic. It can facilitate interpersonal communication, allow message receivers freedom to evaluate the proposed option, and provide some safety for the speaker in their choice of phrasing since COVID-19-related circumstances are uncertain. The information can be useful for those seeking linguistic tools for effective communication
and for instructors developing material for English for specific purposes.


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Montkhongtham, N. (2021). A Coronavirus Corpus-driven Study on the Uses of If- Conditionals in the Pandemic Period. REFLections, 28(1), 33–58. Retrieved from https://so05.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/reflections/article/view/250463
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