Author Topic: never forgive him an he allowed  (Read 12019 times)

Offline Britta

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never forgive him an he allowed
« on: August 07, 2013, 03:38:51 pm »
Haha, now I can finally ask that question I wanted to ask on the day the old forum went down  ;D

Mr. Chadber bowed exceeding low, and implored the lawyer not to remain in the draughty coffee-room. Sir Anthony would never forgive him an he allowed his solicitor to await him there. Would he not come to Sir Anthony's private parlour? (Source: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/38703/38703-h/38703-h.htm)

I understand the sentence, but I've never come across this word "an" before. Since I couldn't find this variant of "an" in my dictionary I suppose the word isn't used much these days. Is there an "official" replacement?
If it's not used by a native speaker it's not idiomatic. And idiom trumps grammar every time. Jack Wilkerson†

Offline davel

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Re: never forgive him an he allowed
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2013, 03:59:15 pm »
In my opinion, this is a mistake and should be "had" or possibly "if". Furthermore, I believe the word "exceeding" should be "exceedingly" - the adverbial form to modify the adjective low: it gives further information about "how low? EXCEEDINGLY low". Having thus found one error (exceedingly) it leads credence to there being a second error, the "an".
David

Offline Britta

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Re: never forgive him an he allowed
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2013, 05:19:02 pm »
I don't think this is an error because this use of "an" appears many times throughout the novel (Georgette Heyer: The Black Moth from 1921).

  • Will you not at least think of the disgrace to the name an you be caught?
  • ...for honest Chadber will be monstrous hurt an you do not justice to his capons...
  • But, an it gives you any satisfaction to know it, I will tell you...

The same is true with grammatical forms such as "exceeding" where we would say "exceedingly" today (see also "monstrous" above). This seems to be the style of the time rather than errors. I foung similarly puzzling expressions in Jane Austen's novels but these are about 100 years older.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2013, 05:21:25 pm by Britta »
If it's not used by a native speaker it's not idiomatic. And idiom trumps grammar every time. Jack Wilkerson†

Offline davel

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Re: never forgive him an he allowed
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2013, 09:23:12 pm »
I stand corrected (actually, I'm sitting down, but you know what I mean!  ;)

I am not familiar with the novel, so assume it is a dialectal variation for both "an" and the lack of "ly" on adverbs. My guess is that the "an" is missing its "d" in the dialect.
David

Offline Britta

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Re: never forgive him an he allowed
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2013, 07:19:49 am »
My guess is that the "an" is missing its "d" in the dialect.

I don't think so. Well, actually, that's what I originally thought, too. But there are instances where "and" doesn't fit at all. I have the impression that "an" rather means something like "in case that" or "in the event that".
If it's not used by a native speaker it's not idiomatic. And idiom trumps grammar every time. Jack Wilkerson†

Offline Bertha

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Re: never forgive him an he allowed
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2013, 01:05:30 pm »
I did a little bit of digging as I was not familiar with the book or Georgette Heyer. It seems she was quite a prolific writer of Regency historical novels and of thrillers. Of  the Regency novels, The Black Moth was her first.  I also learned that she attempted to use a lot of Regency slang to recreate the manner in which some of her characters spoke.  Some critics thought she overdid that!  This article is a starting place to learn more about Heyer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgette_Heyer
Bertha

Offline Britta

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Re: never forgive him an he allowed
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2013, 04:05:00 pm »
Thanks a lot, Bertha!
If it's not used by a native speaker it's not idiomatic. And idiom trumps grammar every time. Jack Wilkerson†