February 10, 2006

Biscuit? Or Not?

For the blogosphere's biscuit conditional fans,* an interesting case from Drum:

The full report is here if you want to pay five bucks for it.

Ordinarily that would be a biscuit conditional. If I say "The full report is in the bookstore if you want to pay five bucks for it," it's a biscuit conditional, because the report is in the bookstore whether or not you want to pay five bucks for it. It's simply that, if you don't want to pay, the information won't be of any use to you.

But in Kevin's case we may not have a biscuit conditional. "Here," after all, is a link in cyberspace; and the full report is in fact not to be found at that link unless you pay five bucks. (For some value of 'at'. Perhaps what I ought to be picking on here is the concept of location in cyberspace and our use of spatial terms to describe it.) So, if you don't want to pay five bucks, we might say that the report won't be there.

Maybe this biscuit/non-biscuit ambiguity indicates that we need some sort of unified account of biscuit and non-biscuit conditionals. Or maybe not. Mostly, I wanted to put it up there for the blogosphere's biscuit conditional fans.

Oh, and Kevin's post is worth reading, too.**

*I am not starting this post "If you like biscuit conditionals...." That would be cheap.

**Nor will I end this post "if you like that sort of thing," because I can't figure out whether that's a biscuit conditional either.

Posted by Matt Weiner at February 10, 2006 06:44 PM
Comments

Fol mole luxulious biscuits.

Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate at February 10, 2006 07:53 PM

I'm going to hell, I know, I know.

It wouldn't be a proper biscuit love-in without mention of everyone's other favorite biscuit connective.

Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate at February 10, 2006 08:01 PM

If the sentence didn't have the "want to", it would be a straightforward conditional. As it stands, the truth of the consequent is indeed independent of the antecedent, notwithstanding the tendency of wanting-to-X to lead to Xing. But it's still not a biscuit conditional (as I understand the term), because the author of the sentence doesn't suppose authorself to know the contemporaneous truth of the consequent.

Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate at February 10, 2006 08:28 PM

I've been craving a new post. Does it show?

Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate at February 10, 2006 08:30 PM

The Weiner reflexive, spotted in the wild.

Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate at February 10, 2006 08:44 PM

Eventually, Matt, I will tire of summarily deleting your comments.

Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate at February 10, 2006 08:55 PM

Craving a new post on my blog? I'm touched. Though when I saw the 'recent comments' part of my movable type thingy, I did wonder whether that was somehow an unfortunate effect of my cat sitting on the keyboard, or whether you'd been taken over by a spambot.

(Possible unfortunate effect of cat sitting on keyboard -- one of the windows I had open contained a pop-up ad (the one linked here, don't bother to look past that link, it's just some dork with a cookie in his mouth imitating the bunny much less cutely), and when I returned there was a dialogue box indicating that the cat had clicked on the pop-up ad. I hope that she didn't accept any spyware.)

I have to say that I don't understand your last two comments. Does the last one humorously suggest that I have been responding to you and you have been deleting it? But the one before is beyond me. BTW, you can probably have posting privileges if you want.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at February 10, 2006 09:15 PM

Uh-huh. It's always the cat on the keyboard excuse with you.

Posted by: Becks at February 10, 2006 09:31 PM

Does the last one humorously suggest that I have been responding to you and you have been deleting it?

It does.

But the one before is beyond me.

Parse "the Weiner reflexive" as you would "the lark ascending". Does that help?

posting privileges

I'm not currently seeking posterhood, but thank you. You're very kind to offer.

Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate at February 10, 2006 09:43 PM

Becks, I definitely won't be recommending the cat for any IT positions.

SB, I do think that helps. (I think of the formulation as the Standpipe reflexive, FWIW.) And I was not conscious of the biscuity syntax of my offer of posting privileges, though I did anticipate the falsity of the antecedent.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at February 10, 2006 09:51 PM

Have you ever mentioned your cat's name? Is it a secret? I think of her as "Catt Weiner".

Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate at February 10, 2006 09:57 PM

It's not a secret, but now I feel as though it might deprive you of the pleasure of the hunt if I just told you. "Catt Weiner" is good. Feel free to continue thinking of her thus even after I reveal her name.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at February 10, 2006 10:02 PM

Huh. Apparently they have this google thing now.

Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate at February 10, 2006 10:09 PM

Mousing over links will lead to spoilers:

Not a secret.

(Coincidentally, that first link leads to a locus classicus of blogospheric biscuit-conditional fandom.)

Posted by: Matt Weiner at February 10, 2006 10:12 PM

She's lovely. I had a cat that color (black/brown/orange speckly) in Samoa, named Harlequin. Tiny little animal, and a truly ferocious ratter.

Posted by: LizardBreath at February 11, 2006 02:45 PM

HM appreciates the compliment. She is decidedly non-tiny.

I bet some people will read my post and think "biscuit conditional fans?" but huzzah! Look at all these comments!

Posted by: Matt Weiner at February 11, 2006 05:11 PM

Were those biscuits in the British sense or in the American sense? or am I crazy?

Posted by: Matt's mom at February 12, 2006 01:16 PM

British, I think. The original sentence was "There are biscuits in the sideboard if you want some," and what American knows what a sideboard is?

Posted by: Matt Weiner at February 12, 2006 02:32 PM

We had a sideboard when I was growing up, and it was called such in our family, though as I recall few of my friends would know what the hell I was talking about when I referenced it.

Posted by: Matt F at February 13, 2006 07:28 AM