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Sergei's French was not as good as he believed it to be: a Frenchman later wrote that Sergei's French was "rough, but at least intelligible," something he would not say about the French of most Russians
who claimed mastery of that language. Sergei's German was slight indeed,
and his Russian was marred by grammatical and spelling lapses.

Should it be ' would not have said" as we are talking about an event in the past that didn't happen. And. does slight here mean "ungrammatical or not fluent? Thanks a lot.

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VladvShould it be ' would not have said" as we are talking about an event in the past that didn't happen.

That's also possible, but I don't get "event in the past that didn't happen" as the main feature here. I sense something more like 'was not willing to say'. 'would not' has the idiomatic meaning 'refused to' (but maybe not so strong as 'refuse'), so that works, too. The following two paraphrases show that the two versions are really not very far apart in meaning.

something he [would not say / refused to say] about the French of most Russians
something he [would not have said / was not willing to say] about the French of most Russians

Vladvdoes slight here mean "ungrammatical or not fluent?

Probably both, together with a lack of vocabulary.

CJ

Comments  
VladvShould it be ' would not have said" as we are talking about an event in the past that didn't happen.

It's not an important difference. Anyway, perhaps our Frenchman went on to comment on other Russians.

VladvAnd. does slight here mean "ungrammatical or not fluent?

"Slight" is quite vague. I took it to mean that Sergei didn't know much German.

 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.