Tue 4 Mar, 2003 12:12 am
Bring something to table: Does anyone know the origins of this phrase?
The meaning I'm looking for is to bring some offering, deal, discussion point or similar.
I'm not looking for the explanation of "bring a plate", meaning bringing food to share.
Well, margo, some Germans say exactly the same (of course translated into German).
Others use the term "trapeze" instead of 'table'.
The last is very close to the original, but wrong as well, it's neither 'table' nor 'trapez' but TAPET.
The meaning of 'tapet' is the "covering of conference tables", from French tapis [mlat. tapetum]
I searched all over kingdom come for this, and can't find any reference to its origin online. Its out there, I just can't find it. Maybe it is a relatively recent phrase from the american business or sports worlds. I'm going to look around some more, maybe it will pop up.
Well, Larry, it's in the the Grimm dictionary (the part, which isn't online yet).
Depends, how you define "recent" - it least, this is known in German since a couple of hundred years.
Thanks Walter, by recent I meant 20th Century. Usually, I have no trouble finding older phrase origins somewhere online, but can find nothing of this phrase, or the slightly changed "Bring to the table."
It's mentioned first in "Dasypodius, Peter: Dictionarium Latinogermanicum -
voces propemodum universas in autoribus Latinae linguae probatis, ac vulgo receptis occurentes Germanice explicans, magno labore pridem concinnatu (Strasbourg, 1536)".
Margo in labor negotiations "bring something to the table" means be prepared with offers, counter offers, and the authority to implement a decision at the negotiating table. Often this phrase is even shortened to just "the table" when referring to negotiations. For instance we have to discuss this at the table meaning negotiate or which side of the table are you on - company side or union side.
Well, I thought, I'd posted this already. Must have hidden the wrong bottom.
Peter Dasypodius mentioned in his dictionary (first published in Strasbourg in 1536) the sentence "to lay s. th. on the tapet", explaining the term 'tapet' as I did above.
Since this is a very common sentnece in German - both litterature as colloquial German - I just thought, it might be similar.
I just thought that to be better than ....
I found this but couldn't quickly find your phrase.
I looked through my Oxford English Dictionary and Mencken's American Language and didn't find anything about the phrase. I also searched the Usenet and came up only with debates of the use of "bring" vs. "take" and the fact that "to table" has opposite meanings in British vs. american English. Finally, I posted the query to a discussion group, so if I hear anything I'll let you know. I like Walter's reference, which may show it is a few hundred years old.
Tapet can be found in both the OED(a very good and detailed explanation) and also the german DUDEN(somewhat shorter descr). after turning it over in my mind i remembered that my dad would use the word TAPET when he felt something really had to be resolved NOW. since he worked in the harbour of hamburg[he was sort of a longshore men's boss; he would be called MEISTER(MASTER)]. he would use TAPET when speaking in the local dialect - a kind of LOW german adapted for use in the harbour. his words in low german where somewhat like "ik mutt dat wull nu opt' tapet bringen" - meaning "i have to bring this to the table - it has to be resolved". i don't know if it still in use today. when i grew up in hamburg there were a fair number of french words that (sometimes somewhat bent) were used in the low german spoken in hamburg - but not many people were aware that these words actually came from the french language. hbg
Actually, our local paper has a headline today: "Mißstände aufs Tapet bringen" ('bringinging grievance on the table').