0

They had cooks and drivers, and guards who occupied a gatehouse, armed with machetes. Seeing as I had regularly petitioned my parents for an electric fence, the business with the guards strikes me as the last word in quiet sophistication. - David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

I have three questions about this sentence.

First, I think "Seeing as" in the sentence is working as a conjunction, but I only get the meaning vaguely. Are there other alternative conjunctions for it?

Second, the context is that the author is envying his boy friend's family ["They"] for having had servants such as cooks, drivers, and guards. My question is, what does "the business" mean here? I think it is more like "the story about the guards". Is that correct?

Third, I do not understand what "in quiet sophistication" means. I looked up the dictionary for the word "sophistication", but I think the words put together make a new meaning or something.

  • You should try to limit your queries to one per question. You can always post several questions. – anongoodnurse Oct 15 '14 at 8:01
  • 'Seeing as' is a subordinator (sometimes called a subordinating conjunction) meaning 'because', 'since', 'given that'. I wouldn't use it here. I'd prefer 'Now I had regularly petitioned my parents for an electric fence for our house, so actually having armed guards guards struck me ...'. Next, 'the business with the guards' just means 'the fact that they had guards'. I'm not sure whether 'the last word in quiet sophistication' is meant ironically; the situation sounds rather barbarous. Literally, it means 'understated or unobtrusive, refined, state-of-the-art security'.[clarified; now o/o/seq] – Edwin Ashworth Oct 15 '14 at 8:07
1

Quiet sophistication is no more than the sum of the two words: understated worldliness will do.

Seeing as is a conjunction, meaning because or since, similar to seeing that

seeing (often foll by: that) in light of the fact (that); inasmuch as; since (TFD)

Buisness:

An affair or matter. (TFD)

Seeing as I had regularly petitioned my parents for an electric fence, the business with the guards strikes me as the last word in quiet sophistication.

A different way of saying this is:

Since I had regularly petitioned my parents for an electric fence, the affair/the matter/the whole thing with the guards strikes me as the last word in understated worldliness.

  • 2
    'The whole thing' seems far more idiomatic here than 'the business' (which strongly connotes an occurrence). It also connotes Charles Addams to me, which is always worthy of an upvote. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 15 '14 at 8:05
  • @EdwinAshworth - I agree that the whole thing is more idiomatic, but it conveys business in a less formal light. – anongoodnurse Oct 15 '14 at 8:06
  • I think the cartoon I'm reminded of shows two hobos sprawled in a doorway, a third just having shuffled past. One says to the other: 'Charlie was in right at the beginning of the whole white wine thing, you know.' // You know, of course, that any unsubtle attempt to milk the vote-for-Addams thing will backfire. (Try Groucho, WC Fields, Tommy Cooper ...) – Edwin Ashworth Oct 15 '14 at 8:13
  • Thank you @medica. However, I still do not understand the meaning of "strike me as the last word in quiet sophistication". I googled it, but did not find answers. I think there are a couple of things I do not understand. First, what does "strike me as the last word"? Second, what does "in" mean in "in quiet sophistication"? – Huidong Im Oct 15 '14 at 8:24
  • In has no different meaning. Strike me means occur to me as in, a thought occurred/came/ to me. It occurred to me/it seemed to me/it entered my mind. The dictionary is very important here. The word strike has at least 28 meanings (plus subsets) in the dictionary I'm looking at. It's all in there. – anongoodnurse Oct 15 '14 at 8:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.