The syntax and semantics of suppletive "wenn"-clauses: Evidence from V2
As Williams (1974) observed, the sentence in (1-a) can have a reading that can be paraphrased as in (1-b).
(1) a. I would be happy if Bill were here.
b. I would be happy that Bill was here, if he were.
Pesetsky (1991) argues that Williams' paraphrase is "more than a mere paraphrase". According to Pesetsky (1991), something like (1-b) is an actual syntactic representation of (1-a) at some level of the derivation.
It is well-known that V2-clauses in German can alternate with suppletive "wenn"-clauses in construction with preference predicates, see for example Frank (1998), Meinunger (2004), Meinunger (2007).
(2) a. Es ist besser, wenn du kommst.
It is better if you come
b. Es ist besser, du kommst.
It is better you come
Both: 'It is better if you come.'
I will argue that these examples and examples like in (3) are of the same kind as the examples discussed by Williams and Pesetsky and show why they are problematic for their analysis.
(3) a. Ich wäre froh, auch darüber würde mehr berichtet.
I be.SUBJ2 glad also over-this be.SUBJ2 more reported
‘I would be glad if there were more reports on this.’
b. Ich wäre froh, er würde sagen, was für eine Art Arzt er ist, ...
I be.SUBJ2 glad he be.SUBJ2 say what for a type doctor he is
‘I would be glad if he would say what kind of doctor he is.’
Der Tagesspiegel, 21.09.2000