But while he might have taken their coin

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thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
Davos had traded at Eastwatch in his smuggling days. The black brothers made hard enemies but good customers, for a ship with the right cargo. But while he might have taken their coin, he had never forgotten how the Blind Bastard’s head had rolled across the Cobblecat’s deck.

Source: Game of Thrones
Hi. Does this "might have" mean "although"?
Thank you.
 
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    You cannot just drop “although” in the existing sentence without re-writing it.
    But broadly speaking that is a good gloss for the overall meaning:
    “Although” he took their money he had never forgotten how violent they were.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you both. But this sentence tells us he did trade with the black brothers so he certainly had taken their coin. So the event "take their coin" can't be a speculation? Does "while" mean "when" here?
    And I think we can rewrite the sentence as "He might have taken their coin, but he had never forgotten how the Blind Bastard’s head had rolled across the Cobblecat’s deck.
    "?
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    But while he might have taken their coin,
    But though he had (in all likelihood) received money from them earlier...
    And I think we can rewrite the sentence as "He might have taken their coin, but he had never forgotten how the Blind Bastard’s head had rolled across the Cobblecat’s deck.
    Yes.

    You could think of it as: In spite of having taken their coin, he'd never forgotten...
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    But though he had (in all likelihood) received money from them earlier...
    Thank you. So the "might have" in the original sentence doesn't mean "although", but means "it is (very) likely that he"?
    But that doesn't make sense. He did trade with the black brothers so he certainly had taken their coin. :confused:
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Thank you both. But this sentence tells us he did trade with the black brothers so he certainly had taken their coin. So the event "take their coin" can't be a speculation? Does "while" mean "when" here?
    And I think we can rewrite the sentence as "He might have taken their coin, but he had never forgotten how the Blind Bastard’s head had rolled across the Cobblecat’s deck.
    "?
    Exactly, which is why I didn’t include a focus on “possiblity” in my gloss.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    For me, there is no likelihood or possibility here. Sounds to me like the past tense of this kind of 'may' - there is no doubt that the speaker is being called names.
    Present tense:
    You may call me anything, but I am not your fool. -


    In fact, I think 'may' and 'might' can jolly well be part of the whole concessive structure but I have to check what R. Quirk says about it (if anything) when I get back home - if I have read anything on the subject, as I must have, I have surely forgotten it completely. :) For now I have spotted these two
    Arbitration Awards

    Aspects of Grammaticalization

    In any case, in the OP, Ser Davos took their coin beyond any doubt, as far as I am concerned.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    He did trade with the black brothers so he certainly had taken their coin.
    Yes, he had. The "might have" expresses a contrast between the fact that though he had been taking their money, he hadn't forgotten the incident of the Blind Bastard's head. I don't know what that is but I assume it was something that the "black brothers" did. The fact that he had taken their money didn't cause him to forget that incident.

    "Might have" expresses likelihood or a possibility but the meaning conveyed in this sentence is that he did take it.

    I suppose the only explanation I can give is that in that sort of sentence, "might have" is an idiomatic way of expressing the thought. Take Boozer's example on "You may call me anything, but I'm not a fool" for instance, which might be said after the speaker had actually been called names.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Hi, thank you all. A native English teacher told me the "might have taken" in the original sentence means "Past alternative possibility that did not happen". I don't know if agree with his idea?
    If you do, then could you give me another example of "Past alternative possibility that did not happen"?
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Hi, thank you all. A native English teacher told me the "might have taken" in the original sentence means "Past alternative possibility that did not happen". I don't know if agree with his idea?
    If you do, then could you give me another example of "Past alternative possibility that did not happen"?
    It can mean that, but in your OP it doesn’t mean that. We can see the character DID take their coin.

    Here’s an example of it being used as an “alternative that didn’t happen”
    “I went to visit my sister at the weekend. I might have taken the toll road, but luckily I didn’t because there was a huge crash in that route and I’d have missed the party.”

    Or, a different meaning (being used as in your OP). More to do with “despite doing something”:
    I went to visit my sister at the weekend. I might have taken a gamble going the scenic route, but it paid off because there were huge delays on the toll road after a big crash.

    Can you see? It’s the phrase IN CONTEXT that reveals the full story.
     
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