you'd expect [..] to fear the accelerator, if not respect it

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chiarel

Senior Member
Italian
Hello.
I'd like to fully comprehend the if part of the following sentence.

But you'd somehow expect an 85-year-old to fear the accelerator, if not respect it.

We're talking about an old woman who drives too fast for her age (for any age, in fact).

I would understand the sentence if it was like this:
But you'd somehow expect an 85-year-old to fear the accelerator, if she doesn't respect it.
Or like this:
But you'd somehow expect an 85-year-old to fear the accelerator, if not to respect it.

Yet, I can't understand if not respect it. Could you help me?
Thanks a lot
Chiarel
 
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  • cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    I think the most appropriate definition, which you can find in the Word Reference dictionary, is:

    If not
    perhaps even (used to introduce a more extreme term than one first mentioned.

    In your context, I think it's a bit closer to "or at (the very) least":

    But you'd somehow expect an 85-year-old to fear the accelerator, or at (the very) least respect it.

    I'd be interested to know where you came across this sentence. I'm not entirely comfortable with the way "if not" is being used.
     
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    chiarel

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you very much, Cycloneviv. The lack of "an" (an 85-year-old) is my fault, an omission. Now, I'll correct it in my first thread.
    The sentence is taken from an American novel in which the heroine speaks in the first person.
     
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