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    #1

    table a motion

    In the same article, the author tries to say that British English is difficult to understand by an American, and he illustrates by using the following examples,

    "After I married into this curious island race, I spend years trying to fathom their linguistic ways. I learned that when Britons table a motion they mean shelve it rather than put it forward for discussion, that a courgette is a zucchini and an aubergine an eggplant,..."

    However, in dictionary, to table something means to put forward sth for discussion, esp. in Britain; on the contrary, in America, to table something may mean to put something aside for the moment. I wonder if the author is being ironical in explaining the phrase in an opposite way, to show that British people do not say what they want to say, or there is really a change in the meaning of "table" in British English?

    Could you help me?

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: table a motion

    I can't help you. In the US, if you table a motion, you set it aside for discussion at a later date, with no further discussion at that time. Sloppy editing of the passage, perhaps.
    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.

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    #3

    Re: table a motion

    The Concise Oxford English Dictionary says the verb table means

    • 1British present formally for discussion or consideration at a meeting:
    • 'more than 200 amendments to the bill have already been tabled.'
    I can find no evidence of any recent change in meaning.

    Rover

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: table a motion

    Table (parliamentary procedure) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    As you can see from the very first paragraph, it has two completely contradictory meanings. Note that they have used "a motion to table" for the example but I think the information is the same.

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    #5

    Re: table a motion

    Thank you all for the explanation. If the meaning of table has never changed in British English, then I guess maybe the author is being ironical and just wants to say that British people do not say quite what they mean? I just feel a little confused here as to why the author says that "when Britons table a motion they mean shelve it rather than put it forward for discussion,..."

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: table a motion

    The Wikipedia link clearly shows that inBrE it means to open a subject up for discussion. Barb's response showed that in AmE, it means to postpone a discussion until a later time. They are not the same thing.

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: table a motion

    Quote Originally Posted by chance22 View Post
    If the meaning of table has never changed in British English, then I guess maybe the author is being ironical and just wants to say that British people do not say quite what they mean? I just feel a little confused here as to why the author says that "when Britons table a motion they mean shelve it rather than put it forward for discussion,..."
    As Barb suggested, it's perhaps sloppy editing of the passage.The writer got it the wrong way round.

  5. BobK's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: table a motion

    Quote Originally Posted by chance22 View Post
    Thank you all for the explanation. If the meaning of table has never changed in British English, then I guess maybe the author is being ironical and just wants to say that British people do not say quite what they mean? I just feel a little confused here as to why the author says that "when Britons table a motion they mean shelve it rather than put it forward for discussion,..."
    I'm not sure why (here and in another post) you keep saying 'ironical'. It's not a question of British people 'not say[ing] quite what they mean'. That may be true in other cases, but here it's simply a question of the word having a different meaning.

    [vocabulary_extension]
    In British English (which doesn't have the meaning 'leave for discussion later') I've recently heard the expression 'Let's park this discussion for now and set up another meeting/discuss it under Any Other Business [conventionally the last item on a meeting agenda is 'AOB']'/'set up a sub-committee...'. This use of 'park' isn't widespread in my experience, but it's a feature of management-speak.

    There is also an idiom which is related, but in no way synonymous. When you want an argument to be shelved indefinitely (and 'wither on the vine' as we say) you 'kick it into the long grass' - a metaphor based on golf (looking for a lost ball, when a cheat finds his opponent's ball and kicks it into the long grass so that it won't be found): David Cameron has referred the issue to an internal inquiry, and some opponents are suggesting that he has just kicked it into the long grass.
    [/vocabulary_extension]

    b

  6. BobK's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: table a motion

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    As Barb suggested, it's perhaps sloppy editing of the passage.The writer got it the wrong way round.

    Yes. I believe I remember noticing that when I read Notes from a small island, and wondering whether I should write to the editor!

    b

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