will and ΘΑ

Although grammar books give these as markers of future tense, and suggest that they are equivalent, and translate into each other, this is in reality often not the case.  The extract below is taken  from ΤΟ ΒΗΜΑ for 13 August 2000.  The right-hand column is my own translation of the piece.

ΘΑ και will

Αν και σύμφωνα με τις γραμματικές και το θα και το will χρησιμοποιούνται για μελλοντικούς χρόνους, στην πραγματικότητα τα πράγματα δεν είναι πάντα τόσο απλά.  Το παρακάτω απόσπασμα είναι από το Βήμα της 13-8-2000. Στη δεξιά στήλη η δική μου μετάφραση.


Τι θα σημάνει για την Ελλάδα η εκλογή Γκορ.

Η πολιτική των ΗΠΑ στα Βαλκάνια αν ο Ρίτσαρωτ Χόλμπρουκ αναλάβει την ηγεσία της εξωτερικής πολιτικής

... Για τους περισσότερους ξένους ηγέτες και παρατηρητές πάντως η εκλογή του κ. Γκορ θα σημάνει θεαματική αλλαγή στυλ στην εξωτερική πολιτική, αλλά όχι απαραίτητα και ουσίας.  ... Όσο πλησιάζουν όμως οι εκλογές θα τον δούμε [τον κ. Χόλμπρουκ] να επισκέπτεται τη Βοσνία και το Κοσσυφοπέδιο (περί τον Οκτώβρη), υπενθυμίζοντας στο εκλογικό σώμα τον ρόλο του σε προηγούμενες κρίσεις. ... Αν ο κ. Χόλμπρουκ αναλάβει την ηγεσία της εξωτερικής πολιτικής, το ενδιαφέρον των ΗΠΑ για την Ανατολική Μεσόγειο θα ενταθείί. ...  Το μεγάλο ερώτημα είναι ποια πολιτική θα ακολουθήσει μια κυβέρνηση Γκορ. 

What a Gore victory would mean for Greece.

US policy in the Balkans if Holbrooke takes over foreign policy.

For most foreign leaders and observers however the election of Al Gore would signal a dramatic change of style in foreign policy, but not necessarily of substance.  ... But as the election gets closer, we will see him visiting Bosnia and Kosovo around October, to recall for the benefit of  the electorate the role he played in previous crises.  If Holbrooke takes over foreign policy, US interest in the eastern Mediterranean will intensify.   ... The big question is what policy a Gore administration would follow.


The difference here is between the first and last occurrences of θα, which I have translated with "would", and the middle two, which I have translated with "will".  The reason for this is that the first and last ones are contingent futures, that is, these events can only happen if Gore wins the election, (and as things stand today, 18 August, it is not at all clear that he will).  The third future ("will intensify") is also contingent, but the event on which it depends is expressly mentioned in the "if"-clause in the same sentence.  In English, although not in Greek, a contingent future, that is, one which depends on another event happening first, is generally expressed by using "would" if the necessary condition is not mentioned in the same sentence.  See also the commentary on πρέπει (i)

For comparison, here is the Observer on 9 July 2000, writing about Bush's proposed programme if he gets elected.  Notice the use of "would" here.  Using "will" would suggest that the result was a foregone conclusion, and could lead a reader to accuse the writer of overconfidence or partisanship.

Bush advances Gore's position by leaps and bounds. He has pledged to rip the ABM treaty to shreds, if necessary, in pursuit of an unequivocal return to Reagan's Star Wars, deploying a comprehensive shield system of space, ground and sea-based missiles.

The Bush programme would not be limited to the Alaska 'front' or indeed to the US. 'Our missile defence,' said Bush, 'must be designed to protect all 50 states, and our friends and allies and forces deployed overseas.'

In terms of cost, the Clinton-Gore version has been estimated at $60 billion, while experts calculate the Bush plan would come in at three times that amount.  ...  Officials at the State Department tell The Observer that they will want to discuss the possible 'card deck effect' of a build-up by Beijing. They fear that China's nemesis in Asia, India, will then feel obliged to accelerate its missile programme, which in turn would lead to a retaliatory programme by India's bitter rival in the sub-continent: Pakistan.

18 Aug 2000