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I guess it roughly means "as long as". But I don't understand the grammar.

I don’t know how long I may live, or how soon I may die; but I know that if I was capsized, any night, in a gale of wind in Yarmouth Roads here, and was to see the town-lights shining for the last time over the rollers as I couldn’t make no head against, I could go down quieter for thinking ‘There’s a man ashore there, iron-true to my little Em’ly, God bless her, and no wrong can touch my Em’ly while so be as that man lives!’” (David Copperfield)

  • It is nonstandard speech, so it doesn't follow any rule of grammar. – Kate Bunting Jul 13 at 14:08
  • It's a bit like the grammar in "...rollers as I couldn't make no head against." earlier in the extract. As @KateBunting says it's nonstandard speech, in this case presumably intended to be Norfolk since he talks of Yarmouth Roads and seeing the town lights. – BoldBen Jul 13 at 18:06

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