If there <was> wealth on Dragonstone, Stannis <would have found> it.

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thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
“If there was wealth on Dragonstone, Stannis would have found it,” he declared. (A Dance with Dragons)

Hi. I think this sentence is what is called a “detectives’ conditional”, just like this sentence “if the robber went out of the window, he would have left footprints in the flower bed”. Whether or not Stannis has found it can give a clue about whether there was wealth on Dragonstone.
Stannis found it, so there may have been wealth on Dragonstone.
Do I get it?
Thank you.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    You seem to be the only person in the internet who uses the phrase "detective's conditional". Even if he <had> found some secret way out

    You seem to a have a deep interest in conditionals and irrealis, and so this might help you:

    The article is from the Science Direct website and is entitled "Conditionals and consequences". (It assumes a basic knowledge of logic.)
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1570868306000152
    particularly at
    1.2. Grammatical confusion
    "If the temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit, then the ice will begin to melt,” - The conditional is being used to express a connection between the temperature and the melting."

    And likewise between Dragonstone and the wealth.

    (If you want a fuller explanation of conditionals, then there is "IFS - Conditionals, Beliefs, Decisions, Chance and Time" Edited by William L. Harper, The University of Western Ontario, Robert Stalnaker, Cornell University, and Glenn Pearce, The University of Western Ontario

    http://strangebeautiful.com/other-texts/harper-et-ifs.pdf)
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Detectives' conditional is a good name, and new to me. However, I'm not sure that this is an example. With detectives, we reach a positive conclusion. Given the conditional, we then go and look at the flower bed, and now we know whether the robber went that way. In your book, I don't know anything about Stannis from that sentence, but it doesn't sound like the speaker is suggesting: So let's go and see whether Stannis has wealth. To me, it feels more negative: There can't be any wealth on Dragonstone, because if there had been, Stannis would have found it. And Stannis hasn't got it. (Of course you need to know more about Stannis to evaluate this last part, that Stannis hasn't got it.)
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The sentence starting with If there was wealth on Dragonstone is more tentative or less commital (i.e. it is more a case of speculation or musing on the part of the "detective") than If there had been wealth on Dragonstone (which is counterfactual and clearly implies that there was no wealth there).
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    You did not provide sufficient context, Tazuo. You should have told everyone that Dragonstone had been sacked by those people talking and that they had looked for hidden treasure there, finding none. However, before they raided the place, it had been Stannis's seat for a long time.

    So, I agree with you. Based on his knowledge, Mace Tyrell uses a past open conditional:
    if there was wealth [and I have no idea if there was]
    Stannis [none other than Stannis] would have found it [he probably found it before us]

    The logical stress is on Stannis.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you all.
    (If you want a fuller explanation of conditionals, then there is "IFS - Conditionals, Beliefs, Decisions, Chance and Time" Edited by William L. Harper, The University of Western Ontario, Robert Stalnaker, Cornell University, and Glenn Pearce, The University of Western Ontario

    http://strangebeautiful.com/other-texts/harper-et-ifs.pdf)
    Thanks for your recommendation.
    Stannis [none other than Stannis] would have found it [he probably found it before us]
    Is this “would have” an assumption, as in “In the Stone Age, people would have led a tough life”?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm afraid that I'm responsible for this name for the past open conditional. It works better, as people have mentioned, when (taking this case) we can check whether or not Stannis has found wealth on Dragonstone in order to ascertain whether or not there was wealth there.

    I agree with Boozer that this is a past open conditional - we don't know whether or not there was wealth on Dragonstone.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    if the robber went out of the window - no idea if he did, but likely 'yes', thinks the detective looking at the open window

    he would have left footprints in the flower bed - he probably, most likely, did; the detective goes to the flower beds and finds footprints

    Conclusion: the robber did go out of the window


    If there [ever] was wealth on Dragonstone - no idea if there was

    Stannis would have found it - if anyone could have found it, it would have been Stannis [and not my son, who recently searched the place]

    Conclusion: my son could not have found wealth on Dragonstone anyway


    Having said all that, I am now confused whether or not the two examples follow the same pattern. Grammatically, they do. The meaning... I don't know... :confused:
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    X: <assumed remark> We should go to take the money from Dragonstone.
    Y: “If there was wealth on Dragonstone,..........Stannis would have found it,” -> I think that there is no money in(?)/on Dragonstone.
    ....{If A.............................................} then {.................B..................}

    This is a simple “If A then B” conditional sentence.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    X: <assumed remark> We should go to take the money from Dragonstone.
    This is why I was saying Tazuo did not provide enough context.

    The speaker's son had recently raided Dragonstone and found no wealth there. The speaker is explaining that his son could not have found gold there because if there ever was gold on Dragonstone, Stannis would have found it before his son could have. The speaker has no idea if there ever was wealth or if Stannis did find anything in actual fact. He is just explaining his son's failure to find gold.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Thank you.

    So how should I understand this "would have" if it is not an assumption?
    You should view the whole sentence holistically as a statement linking Dragonstone with the wealth while offering an opinion.
    See
    1.2. Grammatical confusion
    "If the temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit, then the ice will begin to melt,” - The conditional is being used to express a connection between the temperature and the melting."

    And likewise between Dragonstone and the wealth.
    You may also wish to refer back to SevenDays' post at
    If anyone in the Isles could have found me, it was Lurk. for a good explanation of could/would/should, etc.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I quite support Paul in this Tazuo. You already know more than enough 'conditional' theory to be able to move forward and begin to see sentences beyond the grammar concepts they are built upon. I myself have come to a point where often I can no longer link the grammar I know to the meaning I see*. But that does not perturb me profoundly, you know - languages are all about meaning, not grammar. :)

    *I hope this does not mean I should go back to my grammar books. :D
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    “If there was wealth on Dragonstone, Stannis would have found it,” he declared.

    Two scenarios -

    In the beginning

    1) There was wealth on Dragonstone
    2) There was no wealth on Dragonstone

    Stannis arrives.

    The speaker believes Stannis, being the kind of man he was, would have explored the entire island (I'm assuming it's an island) and found whatever was there to find.

    1) Stannis finds the wealth and takes possession of it
    2) Stannis finds nothing

    Stannis is expelled and takes his possessions with him.

    1) He takes the wealth he found with him
    2) He found no wealth so has nothing to take beyond his other possessions

    Others arrive.

    1) They find no wealth on Dragonstone
    2) They find no wealth on Dragonstone

    The others search and come up with nothing. But that tells them nothing about the original condition. The only thing they know is the island is devoid of wealth. They don't know why. Because Stannis was there, either original scenario is possible. For the island (their only source of evidence), the net result of both scenarios is the same. If there was no wealth, he couldn't take it and if there was wealth he could and did take it. On the other hand, for Stannis, the net result in the two scenarios is different - but they didn't explore Stannis, they only explored the island. The evidence they possess (unless they have spies in Stannis' camp monitoring his wealth) doesn't allow them to tell the original condition. They don't know if the wealth ever existed.

    The inherent assumption behind the original statement is that any wealth there would not have escaped Stannis' notice. The implication of that assumption is that Stannis either found nothing because nothing was there or he found the wealth that was there and took it with him. So, if that assumption is true, they know Stannis is one of two things but they don't which one. He is either wealthier than when he arrived there or he is not (because there was no wealth). Based on their original assessment of Stannis, they "know" he didn't leave any available wealth behind.

    Without that assumption about Stannis, they could envision a third possibility - the wealth exists and is still hidden somewhere on the island and Stannis left without it. Stannis missed it. But their confidence in their assumption about Stannis rules that out in their mind. They are not surprised there is no wealth there. After all, Stannis was there first and if there was something to find it would have been found by him due to his known thoroughness.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you all.
    It's the consequence of an implication.
    What implication?
    You should view the whole sentence holistically as a statement linking Dragonstone with the wealth while offering an opinion.
    Yes, I should have. Sorry.
    The speaker believes Stannis, being the kind of man he was, would have explored the entire island (I'm assuming it's an island) and found whatever was there to find.
    This seems to suggest the “would have” part is an assumption.
    Stannis would have found it - if anyone could have found it, it would have been Stannis [and not my son, who recently searched the place]
    But this explanation seems to suggest the “would have” part is hypothetical because of the if clause.:confused:
    I just can’t imagine there is a third use of “would have” apart from the hypothetical use and assumption use of “would have”.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    But this explanation seems to suggest the “would have” part is hypothetical because of the if clause.:confused:
    I just can’t imagine there is a third use of “would have” apart from the hypothetical use and assumption use of “would have”.
    :) I think we have told you, Tazuo, that labelling whatever meanings you see is not particularly helpful. In fact, it could be confusing. I am already confused - not about the meaning of the text, no, but about the way in which the meaning disagrees with your labels. I suppose I am easily confused. :)

    If there was wealth - this is the condition and it is open
    Stannis would have found it - maybe you can call this an assumption based upon the condition being met :confused: As already explained by many and in particular by Kentix in great detail:

    If there was wealth Stannis would have found it:
    a/ maybe there was wealth, in which case Stannis surely found it [implication: my son did not, obviously]
    b/ maybe there never was wealth so Stannis surely did not find it [implication: neither did my son, obviously]
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Hi. Regarding the op example, can we say "If there was wealth on Dragonstone, Stannis will have found it," in this context (context is in post 5)?
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Hi. Regarding the op example, can we say "If there was wealth on Dragonstone, Stannis will have found it," in this context (context is in post 5)?
    I think it is possible to say that. It is the equivalent of
    If there was wealth on Dragonstone, Stannis has probably found it [= Stannis has it now]

    The problem is, however, that this thing is said at a point when Stannis himself is already dead, so to imply that he has anything now is... not really possible.

    Otherwise your sentence sounds fine to me.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you, boozer.
    If there was wealth on Dragonstone, Stannis has probably found it [= Stannis has it now]
    But doesn't "If there was wealth on Dragonstone, Stannis has probably found it" mean the speaker does not know whether there was wealth on Dragonstone or not, nor whether Stannis found it?:confused:
    when Stannis himself is already dead
    I have no idea why you say Stannis is already dead. :confused: According to novel, Stannis is still alive at that time, obviously.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Thank you, boozer.

    But doesn't "If there was wealth on Dragonstone, Stannis has probably found it" mean the speaker does not know whether there was wealth on Dragonstone or not, nor whether Stannis found it?:confused:

    I have no idea why you say Stannis is already dead. :confused: According to novel, Stannis is still alive at that time, obviously.
    Right, the speaker doesn't know if there was wealth, but knows that if there was, Stannis has it now.
    As regards Stannis being alive, I am beginning to forget the novel's plotline. It has been a few years since I read it.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thanks again.
    f there was wealth Stannis would have found it:
    a/ maybe there was wealth, in which case Stannis surely found it [implication: my son did not, obviously]
    b/ maybe there never was wealth so Stannis surely did not find it [implication: neither did my son, obviously]
    Right, the speaker doesn't know if there was wealth, but knows that if there was, Stannis has it now.
    So there is no difference between "If there was wealth on Dragonstone, Stannis will have found it" and "If there was wealth on Dragonstone, Stannis would have found it", right?
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    The meaning in this case is practically the same, to me.

    the thing is, you must always use the infinitive or perfect infinitive after an English modal verb. Both 'will' and 'would' are modal verbs. The additional problem is that both the past simple tense and the present perfect tense, when hidden behind a modal verb, become indistinguishable. Still, my theory is that two different tenses are hidden here behind two different modal verbs:

    he probably found it --> he would have found it [past simple rephrased]
    he has probably found it --> he will have found it [present perfect rephrased]

    In reality, no one will bother to analyse them - there is no need. And I have no proof, just a feeling.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    So there is no difference between "If there was wealth on Dragonstone, Stannis will have found it" and "If there was wealth on Dragonstone, Stannis would have found it", right?
    No, wrong! I couldn't agree with this, as I've made clear.

    You might be wishing, for instance, to make the point that Stannis would have found it where Potric would have failed.

    'Will have' would be inappropriate in that circumstance.
     
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    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I have been following this thread, since it ties in with another of @thetazuo's threads. Could someone please tell me what the actual situation was when this sentence was spoken, which I presume is known. In particular:
    1. Did the speaker know whether or not there had been wealth on Dragonstone?
    2. If the answer to (1) is "yes", was there wealth on Dragonstone?
    3. Did the speaker know whether or not Stannis had found wealth on Dragonstone?
    4. If the answer to (4) is "yes", did Stannis find wealth on Dragonstone?
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    I have been following this thread, since it ties in with another of @thetazuo's threads. Could someone please tell me what the actual situation was when this sentence was spoken, which I presume is known. In particular:
    1. Did the speaker know whether or not there had been wealth on Dragonstone?
    2. If the answer to (1) is "yes", was there wealth on Dragonstone?
    3. Did the speaker know whether or not Stannis had found wealth on Dragonstone?
    4. If the answer to (4) is "yes", did Stannis find wealth on Dragonstone?
    These questions are not easy to answer, Jack. I’d say no to 1 and 3. But this is the context using my words (other than boozer’s):
    The speaker is hold court which great lords of the realm are attending. One of the lords, Mace Tyrell, says with great confidence that there are no wealth on Dragonstone because he thinks his son’s men “have searched every inch of that damp and dreary island (Dragonstone) and turned up not so much as a single gemstone or speck of gold.” But the lord who presides over the court, Kevan Lannister, thinks otherwise. He “doubts very much that Loras Tyrell (Mace Tyrell’s son) has searched every inch of that ancient stronghold (Dragonstone).” However, Kevan doesn’t want to upset Mace by reminding the latter that his son fails to search for the wealth carefully. That’s when Kevan utters the op sentence, before he urges other lords to move on to the next topic. Does it help?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Does it help?
    It might well do. As I have said in another thread (and I recall Thomas Tompion said as well) "would have found" implies it was not found, and that if the situation is unknown, then "will have found" would be a far better choice.
    If the speaker wanted to close down the conversation, he may well have used the decisive "would have found" rather than the open "will have found", which could have led to further discussion of whether Stannis had, in fact, found any wealth.

    I do like boozer's interpretation in post #5, though. If the speaker wanted to place particular emphasis in the sentence, then they might well have chosen a different form of words than might otherwise be used.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you, Jack.

    I think you are essentially saying the same thing as entangledbank in post 3. Yes, the original sentence as it stands is more negative in this context — Stannis didn’t find the wealth, based on the evidence they had found as to Stannis’ financial situation, so the speaker inferred that there were no wealth on the island. BUT the speaker personally didn’t really think so — he said so just to echo what Mace said because the speaker didn’t want to offend Mace.

    Boozer’s interpretation in post 5 and 19 is good, but now I feel it would make more sense when the original sentence is part of past narration and the there are further discussion of whether Stannis had, in fact, found any wealth following the op sentence.

    At the moment, I think the pattern “If+simple past+would have past participle” can have two interpretations — one is more open and the other is more counterfactual. In a given context, only one of them prevails. I hope this makes sense.
     
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