Tell me why doesn't a man who knows he's going to die become a deserter

OleMorris

Senior Member
Italian
Hi everybody,
I'm struggling to understand if this sentence is correct. I know it's rather heavy and quite Early-Modern-English-sounding, but I'd like to know if - at least on a theoretical level - all the parts of the sentence are in the right place.

Tell me why doesn't a man who knows he's going to die become a deserter

Would it be also possible to say:

Tell me why a man who knows he's going to die doesn't/wouldn't (?) become a deserter

Or:

Tell me why a man wouldn't become a deserter who knows he's going to die


I have to point out these are not questions, but statements (no question mark). f you have any suggestions on how it could be improved, I'm all ears! :)
As always, thanks in advance!
 
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  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Statements are written Subject Verb Object

    ...Tell.................me..............why...........a man....who knows he's going to die...doesn't/wouldn't become....a deserter
    Imperative....indirect object...adverb........subject...[.....defining relative clause.]...................verb.................object
    Imperative....indirect object....................[...............................subject..........]...................verb.................object
    Imperative....indirect object...[.........................................................direct object................................................]

    This is the usual word order.
     
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    OleMorris

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thought so, thanks for your reply! I guess I was misled by the insertion of the auxiliary after the interrogative pronoun in questions.
    Would it be possible to alter the sentence for stylistic reasons so as to have:

    Tell me why a man doesn't become a deserter who knows he's going to die

    I understand it's a slight distortion of the usual syntactic rules, but my aim is to make it sound more poetic/theatrical.
     

    OleMorris

    Senior Member
    Italian
    To be frank, anything is possible in "poetic/literary" style - you can abandon conventional grammar any time you wish. (How your audience receives it is a different matter.)
    On a personal level, do you feel that it just sounds uncommonly weird/freakish or that it may be accepted as a sort of poetic compromise (if it had to rhyme with another poetic line, for instance)?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    As part of a set of lyrics, it works.

    Note doesn't and wouldn't carry, unsurprisingly, different meanings
     
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