<At least> there’d be a look in his eyes sometimes, and then I knew I’d got to give in

Discussion in 'English Only' started by longxianchen, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. longxianchen Senior Member

    chinese
    Hi,
    Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(page 348, chapter 16) by Lawrence (planetebook,here):
    (background: Connie was leaving for Venice, Mrs Bolton was helping her pack. Mrs Bolton said men are all like babies, who need flattering and wheedling. Connie asked whether Bolton's husband was the lord and master thing, Bolton said:"No! At least.…………")


    ‘No! At least there’d be a look in his eyes sometimes, and then I knew I’d got to give in. But usually he gave in to me. No, he was never lord and master. But neither was I. I knew when I could go no further with him, and then I gave in: though it cost me a good bit, sometimes.’


    I feel at most is better than at least. But Lawrence just used it to show Bolton was not well-educated and not good at expressing herself in standard English.
    Is that right please?
     
  2. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    London
    British English
    'At least' modifies the No! her first response to Connie asking if her husband had ever behaved like her 'lord and master'. She denies that, exclaiming 'No!', then she acknowledges that she knew she had to agree with him, by a certain look in his eye.

    'We aren't rich, at least not what most people call rich'.

    It's an idiom defined in the WR dictionary as:
    We could say 'only in the smallest way'.

    An idiom often defies language logic or a literal translation. This is good standard English.​
     
  3. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    "At least" can mean "The preceding statement may be overstatement, exaggeration, simplification, or over-simplification; but this is true:".
     
  4. longxianchen Senior Member

    chinese
    Thank you two. I think I have understood your explanations.
    This makes sense. And I feel it's a little close to but in this case
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2016
  5. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    The logic is:
    Was he a domineering husband?
    No. On second thoughts, I have to qualify "no". Usually he gave in to me, but sometimes he was insistent.
     

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