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"Treasure Island" by Stevenson
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 2:54 pm Reply with quote
saproj
 
Joined: 06 Mar 2009
Posts: 1


Hi!
Here is a sentence from "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Quote:
He gave it me at Savannah, when he lay a-dying, like as if I was to now, you see.

The grammar is weird to me (non-native speaker). My questions:
1. What verb does 'to' refer to? (give, lie, die)?
2. Was it a normal grammar at the time of writing (1883) or was it a stylization?
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Re: "Treasure Island" by Stevenson
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:37 pm Reply with quote
Dave
 
Joined: 08 Jun 2006
Posts: 357
Location: Washington, DC


saproj wrote:
Hi!
Here is a sentence from "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Quote:
He gave it me at Savannah, when he lay a-dying, like as if I was to now, you see.

The grammar is weird to me (non-native speaker). My questions:
1. What verb does 'to' refer to? (give, lie, die)?
2. Was it a normal grammar at the time of writing (1883) or was it a stylization?

Don't worry--it's weird syntax to me as well.

I can only presume the "to" refers to "a-dying." Nothing else makes as much sense (to me) as that does.

I think this usage is not necessarily deliberately stylized, but rather the opposite: I think it's meant to capture a colloquial tone. It sounds like an attempt to represent casual and somewhat clumsy everyday language.

But I could be totally wrong. Does anybody else have any insight?

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"Treasure Island" by Stevenson
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