Table 是桌子，大家都知道。可是 Table 還有別的意義，你也許並不清楚。
開會時，對於不做或暫時不想做決議的項目，美國人用「table it」來描述，以留待日後解決。在美國開會，如果某個議程或提案做不了決議，而想留到下次再談，或者會後私下協調商量，就用 table 這個字表示擱置它。Table 有擺在一邊緩衝、晾一晾的意思。
可是到了香港，table 這個字的用法就完全不一樣了。「Table」表示我已經把它放在桌面上，千萬不要延後處理，「請大家趕快來討論」。你如果在會議中，想 table 什麼，那就表示：「請放上檯面，我們好好的談一談吧！」
在香港，情況像 table 一樣，有所不同。香港與美國相同的是，通行中的綠燈誌號，在顯示禁行的紅燈之前，也會先顯示黃燈，以為預警。行車遇紅燈，當然要停止；然而紅燈轉綠燈之前，也會先示出黃燈，藉著黃燈提示綠燈將現。所以在香港行車，多了一道防守。然而在香港的馬路上，大部分供行人用的誌號少了黃燈預警，做為緩衝。
'Table' differences and traffic lights
Everyone knows what the English word "table" means. But not everyone will know the other meanings of "table".
At meetings, if an issue cannot be solved, even just for the short term, Americans usually say, "Let us table it." If it is better to discuss a proposal at a later date, they would also say, "Table it". Thus used, "table" means "to put it aside" or "to postpone consideration".
But in Hong Kong, "table" has an entirely different meaning in business contexts. If you "table" something, it means "I have put it on the table for immediate discussion with no delay".
If you are at a meeting and someone wants to table something, you should say, "Please table it and let's have a good discussion."
The same English word can have entirely different meanings at two different ends of the earth.
There is another difference between North America and Hong Kong. In addition to the difference of driving on different sides of the road, on the right side in North America and left side in Hong Kong, traffic lights are different. In the US, before the traffic lights go red, amber acts as a warning. When the lights change from green to red, they change directly to green.
In Hong Kong, the way traffic lights change is as different as in the meaning of the word "table". When traffic lights go red, amber will act as a warning all right, but when the lights change from red to green, amber will also appear as signal for the change of lights. Therefore, there is one more safety defense for people driving in Hong Kong. And yet, traffic lights designed for pedestrians don't have amber as a buffer when they change from red to green.
Because of the difference, people usually say "beat the amber light" in the US, i.e. accelerate through an intersection while the light changes from green to amber before the red "stop" light turns on. In Hong Kong, many people step into the road before lights change to green as there is no amber for pedestrians.
It is not right one way or the other, yet many people will do it anyway.
2 February, 2015