Athyra (no Chapter 9+ spoilers) and Dragon

Tue Jun 3 03:19:07 PDT 2003

On Tue, 3 Jun 2003, Iván Rebollo wrote:

> In page 82 of The Book Of Athyra Vlad says something that have puzzled me.
> When Savn says that he should like be in the army, Vlad answers "I wouldn't
> know, myself. I've never been in the army".
> Well, If I'm not wrong Vald has been in the Morrolan's army in Dragon,
> hasn't he?

This was discussed recently.  The lawerly answer: Vlad doesn't consider
himself to have been in the army in a formal sense (he didn't have a rank
I think, he didn't formally enlist, he didn't really follow a command
structure) or in any sense that would correspond to what Savn means by
being in the army.  Or he doesn't want to encourage Savn by making it
seem a romantic or badass thing to do.  - I suspect Vlad smiles
[bottom of page 90 in the original edition] because of an internal
conversation along the lines of:
	"Check it out, Loioish, this poor Teckla kid thinks it would be
fun to sign up to be fed to Blackwand."
	"Gee boss, waste of a teckla."

The authoritative (literally) answer: Vlad doesn't feel like getting into
a long discussion about his history with a Dragraeran/Teckla/child.
Perhaps SKZB would say Vlad smiles because he finds himself lying,
which is against his code, or perhaps because he was about to not lie,
which is against his better judgement.

> Finally, in page 95 Savn asks himself "Why aren't I afraid?"  Excuse me
> for my poor english but I do not remember reading this grammatic
> construction before: what's its purpose? there is any kind of enphasis
> or stress which I do not catch? Thanks.

I was going to say "because someone evil slipped you an altered version of
the text" but there on page 106 of my edition is the clunker you quote.
You are technically correct, but plenty of educated English speakers say
this.  "Am I not?" is a common construction, but English wants to contract
it to "amn't", which isn't English (in America or Britain anyway), or
"aint", which is a notorious word considered an indicator of low
socio-economic status.  "Aren't" doesn't make sense but is "colloquially
acceptable and indeed almost universal" (Fowler's Modern English Usage,
2nd Ed., under "Be 7").  I would speculate that Savn's usage of this form
shows that he is educated enough to avoid "aint" but not sophisticated
enough to shudder at "aren't", as Vlad would.  I personally would write
(and for that matter say) "I wonder why I'm not afraid".

For the sake of completeness, I note that if you put "aren't" and
"grammar" into google you'll get a few thousand hits, a number of which
will give you a more sophisticated answer than the above and most of which
are probably, as we like to say in this anti-statist (when the state's
helping the other guy) nation, good enough for government work.

- Philip