3

You have a secret which I, not curious about, have never paid any attention to.

This example should be like this in modern English.

"You have a secret which I, not curious about it, have never paid any attention to."

Is this an archaic usage of the object relative pronoun?

1 Answer 1

3

You have a secret which I, not curious about, have never paid any attention to.

Thy bosom is endeared with all hearts
Which I by lacking have supposed dead

There are some lexical archaisms in the sonnet, but the syntax in both passages is perfectly acceptable in present-day writing.

Both employ the same construction: the relative which acts as complement of both the adjective phrase and the verb phrase of which I is the subject.

You won't encounter constructions like this in conversation, because they require too much 'pre-processing' to get the ellipses and subordinations right. Conversational English is paratactic, coordinating (or simply juxtaposing) phrases and clauses where it can. Likely conversational forms would be:

You have a secret which I am not curious about and have never paid any attention to.

... which I have lacked and (consequently) supposed dead.

Literary English is drifting away from complex constructions like this, and replacing them with conversational forms; but they are still very useful when you need to express complex relationships between propositions.

2
  • It's a start; but with the Shakespeare in particular there's a lot going on that syntactic analysis won't cover -- but that's LitCrit and off topic. Commented May 22, 2014 at 14:35
  • @user10395 No, that is not incorrect. Neither is incorrect. Your way makes the clause in question more parenthetical, the originals are more tightly integrated. They are different approaches to saying the same thing. There is rarely just one way of saying anything. Commented May 23, 2014 at 2:40

You must log in to answer this question.