I'll bet you this kid's been giving flying lessons [present perfect]

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Bob's taking to his secretary about Helen, (a psychologist) who wrote a bestseller about how single women should deal with men, and whom he called a virgin:
- I'll bet you this kid's been giving flying lessons and she's never been off the ground.
Sex and the Single Girl, movie

He's using the perfect form as if she's really been giving flying lessons. Why doesn't he use, say, the subjunctive mood, like "if this kid were giving flying lessons"... or so...?
Thank you.
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Because he is sure the "kid has been giving lessons". That's why Bob says
    "I'll bet you .." in the expectation of winning the bet. That's why there's no conditional or subjunctive construction.
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    The flying lessons are a metaphor for writing the book, and it is certain that she has done so. A conditional is not needed with "I bet".
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Because he is sure the "kid has been giving lessons". That's why Bob says
    "I'll bet you .." in the expectation of winning the bet. That's why there's no conditional or subjunctive construction.
    But why will he bet, if she has not been giving the lessons? He is, obviously, comparing this with giving advice to women and at the same time being a virgin (or at least not having dealt wit men), but anyway, why...?

    cross-posted with Glasguensis
     
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    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    Another way of putting this is "I bet that, even though she has been giving lessons, she has never done it herself"

    Note how the "even though" clause could be removed completely, which is also the case with the "this kid's..." in the original.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    One question: am I right that the sentence could be rephrased this way and this is what it implied:
    If I am told that she's been giving flying lessons, I'll bet that that she's never been off the ground.
    :)
     
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    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    No:
    The statement is:
    I am sure that A and B are true.
    That is not:
    If A is true, then I am sure that B is true.

    In this particular case, there is absolutely no question that A is true. She wrote the book. The book exists.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    As Glasguensis and Myridon say, there's no implied conditional, Vik.

    A closer 'translation' would be "I bet that this person who has been giving flying lessons has never left the ground".

    (Think of "flying lessons" as code for "advice about relationships" and "has never left the ground" as code for "has never had sex".)
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you, all!

    Though, it still seems strange -- why to use such a metaphor instead of calling a spade a spade. If the secretary is supposed to understand what he's talking about (she is reading that book, too)?
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    It is a euphemism. The traditional rule of politeness is that you do not mention sexual matters in mixed company ('mixed' meaning both sexes).
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    why to use such a metaphor instead of calling a spade a spade
    Why did you use such a metaphor? We like to say things in interesting ways. We like to hint at things. We don't like to talk about sex in mixed company especially in the workplace (this is a 1964 movie after all).
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    And today it would be unnatural. But 50 years ago it would have been shocking to have been more explicit in a film.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    But I think Bob could have taken the liberty of being more direct since he was proud when his chief told him:
    - And let me thank you from the heart for living down to my expectations. If there is a dirtier mind than yours in the whole field of magazine publishing or a nature more vulgar and corrupt well, heh, heh, I'd like to know where it is.
    After all, he publically called a doctor-psychologist, a 23-years-old virgin.
    :D
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "Virgin" is a term that was used in front of children at the time. You can't tell the Christmas story without it. I don't think the word "fuck" was used in a movie until several years after that. They could hardly say "She talks about fucking but she's never fucked anybody herself."
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    "Fucking" (or something similar) was not at all the word I had in mind when said about calling a spade a spade:D.
    And, yes, "virgin" itself is a neutral term. As well as, "23", "year old", "girl". But even nowadays, if a Dr. X, a research psychologist, wrote a bestseller, and a well-known journalist wrote a scandal article about her book, calling her so, it'd be not the same as to say "virgin" in the Christmas story context.
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    You are once again using today's standards to judge 1964. It was not yet widely acceptable for unmarried women to NOT be virgins.

    Edit : I suggest you look at how conservative the Motion Picture Production Code was, which was still in force at that time. This was a mainstream movie which followed the code, even though it was on the point of collapse.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_Picture_Production_Code
     
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    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    For unmarried women, but she advises other women and calling her so resulted in her losing her clientele. Anyway, being or not being a virgin is something about the private life, even when the former is a "compliment", not for public discussion, I think.:confused:

    As to the Motion Picture Production Code: I don't completely understand whether we're talking about what was appropriate to mention in movies in those times (nobody says about "fucking", "she has not experience" would be enough), or about what was appropriate to mention when talking to your female secretary.:confused:
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Glasguensis and Myridon may well be right that the use of metaphor here was due to official coyness.

    Personally, I'd have attributed it to humour: the reference to "flying lessons" and "never leaving the ground" is simply funnier than a literal alternative would have been.

    Perhaps all three of us are right!:)
     
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