Re: interesting english syntax
|From:||Yahya Abdal-Aziz <yahya@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, September 27, 2005, 13:29|
On Mon, 26 Sep 2005, Elliott Lash wrote:
> In my American New York English, I can say the
> following types of things:
> 1) Were he here, he'd be helping us out.
> 2) Had I known how bad it was, I never would have
> seen it.
> 3) Come spring, the flowers will start to bloom.
> The first two have an inverted subject and verb in the
> first clause, where the verb is in a past or
> "subjunctive" form. It seems to mean the same as "if
> he were" and "if I had known". The last sentence is
> slightly different in meaning, with a "subjunctive"
> form of the verb. It means something like "when spring
> comes". Is there a name for these things, and is it
> more common, used with more than those verbs? Is it
> appropriated for any conlangs?
I can think of other auxiliary verbs in English that permit
these constructions, eg
4) Could he have known of her perfidy, assuredly he
would never have offered her his hand in marriage.
5) Do what she may, [do what she might,] she could not
have persuaded him otherwise.
6) Go where she would, all polite society would have
Also, I note that 3) is quite similar to -
7) Be that as it may, he remained in blissful ignorance.
The first clause in both examples announces a pre-
condition, not necessarily of time.
The usage in 3) is, of course, not restricted to seasons;
for example, we might say -
8) Come dinner-time, he was ravenous, having partaken
of nothing all day but a meagre breakfast of poached
eggs, kippers, three kinds of sausage and toast.
Deride my examples if you will, but I think them
suitable exemplars of a style already obsolescent in
Victorian times ...!
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