It's not much of a spoiler to reveal that there's a character named Grainne in Stephenson and Galland's The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O, nor that this character is mostly represented in the text by letters written by her to another (off-stage) character.

This character writes with an awkward, almost Yoda-like syntax, represented by quotes like "It's sorrowful I am to think of [some event]" or "This gentleman, although little enough he seems to do, yet he has more power than all the others put together". Given that she is an Irish woman in London in 1602, how realistic is this sort of transposition? If it helps, it seems to only happen in relatively simple sentences and clauses (more complex sentences are rendered in fairly standard modern-style syntax) A particularly egregious example:

A brilliant plan this is, to my mind, and so obvious and straightforward, I wonder what bollocks excuse [they] have for not be doing likewise.

NOTE: I'm aware that this is to some extent a common representation of Irish dialog, I'm curious as to whether Grainne's syntax patterns are representative of anything that an Irish woman of the period would have written.

  • The quoted example is "particularly egregious" because of the "be" near the end?
    – user14111
    Jul 10, 2017 at 4:16
  • Yeah, that last phrase is what stood out for me. Jul 10, 2017 at 4:16
  • 3
    I think this is more of a language question than a sci-fi/fantasy one, might get a better answer on english.stackexchange.com
    – user22478
    Jul 10, 2017 at 8:38
  • 2
    Not an informed answer, but in many other books I've read, they've noted that Briton/Welsh/Irish Gaelic and other Celtic languages tend to employ circumlocution and indirection much more than more direct languages like Anglo-Saxon and its descendant languages (e.g. English), which are quite "blunt" by comparison. If Grainne thinks in Irish Gaelic as her native tongue, having her employ turns of phrase that are technically legal (or close to it) but awkwardly roundabout in English would make sense. Not an answer because verifying assertions from half-remembered books is not easy. :-) Sep 29, 2017 at 15:40


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.