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    #1

    subjunctive sentence

    Hi.
    I don't understand a sentence in the following passage from "Grand Babylon Hotel" by A. Bennett.

    (An American millionaire and his spoilt daughter were staying at Grand Babylon Hotel in London. One night the daughter told his father that she wanted to eat steak for dinner. The head waiter refused to offer it because it was not on the menu. The angry American millionaire went to meet the proprietor of the hotel and made an arrangement to buy the hotel on the spot. Then he ordered the head waiter to bring steak as his employer. Next day the millionair found his daughter sitting on a chair in the bureau. She said she was going to help her father with the hotel.)

    'But look here, Helen Racksole. We shall have the whole of London talking about this thing--the greatest of all American heiresses a hôtel clerk! And I came here for quiet and rest!'
    'I suppose it was for the sake of quiet and rest that you bought the hôtel, Papa?'
    'You would insist on the steak,' he retorted. 'Get out of this, on the instant.'

    What I don't understand is "You would insist on the steak" part. Is he saying something like "all you can do as a clerk would be asking for steak"? (I suspect he is saying something humorous to the reader.) I appreciate your comments. Thanks!

  1. SlickVic9000's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: subjunctive sentence

    (Not a Teacher)

    I believe it simply means: "Well, you insisted on the steak."

    This English sounds like it hails from the first half of the 20th century. This sentence would sound a little peculiar today.

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    #3

    Re: subjunctive sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by SlickVic9000 View Post
    (Not a Teacher)

    I believe it simply means: "Well, you insisted on the steak."

    This English sounds like it hails from the first half of the 20th century. This sentence would sound a little peculiar today.
    That makes sense.
    As you pointed out, the quote is from an early twentieth century novel.
    Thank you for your comment.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: subjunctive sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by imchongjun View Post
    . 'Get out of this, on the instant.'
    There is some odd phrasing, including the quoted part above, that sounds wrong, not simply old. Get out of there, this instant!
    (Also, I couldn't figure out why she was in the bureau, which is another word for a piece of furniture you put your clothes in. Does it mean "office" in other dialects?)
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: subjunctive sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    There is some odd phrasing, including the quoted part above, that sounds wrong, not simply old.
    The whole thing reads to me like something from an English course book written by a non-native speaker some fifty or more years ago.

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    #6

    Re: subjunctive sentence

    You would insist on the steak- This sounds like You insisted on insisting on the steak to me- it sounds odd today.

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    #7

    Re: subjunctive sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    (Also, I couldn't figure out why she was in the bureau, which is another word for a piece of furniture you put your clothes in. Does it mean "office" in other dialects?)
    Bureau means 1) piece of furniture or 2) office in French

    Maybe the author was French? That may explain the errors quoted above.

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    #8

    Re: subjunctive sentence

    They're not errors- he was writing a long time ago and things have changed since then. He was British, though he lived in France for some years:
    Arnold Bennett - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    #9

    Re: subjunctive sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    There is some odd phrasing, including the quoted part above, that sounds wrong, not simply old. Get out of there, this instant!
    (Also, I couldn't figure out why she was in the bureau, which is another word for a piece of furniture you put your clothes in. Does it mean "office" in other dialects?)
    I was also confused by most of the phrasing here, and the usage of "bureau", but I also remember that we have things like "The Bureau of Labor Statistics"... Still, I would never use "bureau". I would say department or office, depending.

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