5

Found this post making a joke on the use of JOIN in a Japanese restaurant. This instruction intends to tell customers not to rearrange tables, by placing them next to each other, thus making a "bigger table".

Instruction

What is the correct word or phrase to be used here in place of JOIN, such as:

Please do not WORD or PHRASE here tables in this area.

I know that the message can be conveyed by rearrangement of words, but curious to know if there's a word or phrase that can retain the same word order.

  • 3
    The joke is more to do with the capitalization of the sentence than with the meaning of the sentence per se - "Join" is a valid (although slightly stilted) word to use here, but it should not be all capitalized. A fully capitalized "JOIN" in the middle of a sentence looks like the database programming language SQL, which is why the author of the joke thinks it is funny. – Matt Nov 15 '13 at 18:46
4

Most people would not have a problem understanding this wording, though it is definitely not something a native speaker would say. It is amusing because JOIN is a command used to combine database tables. Only people familiar with databases would have any reason to laugh at this.

I think the best substitute would be pretty much what you already said:

Please do not rearrange the tables in this area.

This foils the joke, and sounds more natural to a native speaker. If you want to specifically address making "bigger" tables, you can say:

Please do not push together any tables in this area.

push together sounds a little more natural, and adding "any" makes it flow a little better.

  • 1
    @jeysmith It is definitely grammatically correct, and people would know what you meant. But it is a little confusing to say "back-to-back" since tables are usually symmetrical, and don't really have "backs" or "fronts". – Gray Nov 15 '13 at 16:39
  • 1
    Thanks Gray, and by the way a 'TABLE' can also be CREATE, TRUNCATE, ALTER and DROP :-)) – jeysmith Nov 15 '13 at 16:52
  • 2
    I'm a native speaker, and the first word I thought of was "join". Also, "join" would be a subset of "rearrange", as "join" would mean "move tables so as to put two tables end to end, or combine two tables into one," while "rearrange" would cover a much broader set of actions, such as turning a rectangular table 90°. – J.R. Nov 15 '13 at 20:17
  • 1
    @J.R. Join seems okay to me, too. (Just my opinion!) – snailcar Nov 15 '13 at 20:31
  • 2
    @Gray - "push together" - that's a great answer! Please do not push together tables in this area (or maybe, Please do not push tables together in this area). It is clear and sounds somewhat natural, too. I think you should edit your answer and add that in. – J.R. Nov 15 '13 at 20:36
2

Yes, as a database guy, I see this as an old joke. But to a normal human being, I think this would be a perfectly natural sentence.

There is a potential ambiguity: Do you mean, "Do not move or re-arrange tables", or do you mean, "Do not sit at a table where others are already seated"? I'd be tempted to think the second. If there is a group of people already sitting at a table, and you wish to also sit at that table -- whether because you know them or because there's no room anywhere else or whatever -- the common phrasing is, "May I join you?"

  • I would think owners (presumably, the people who put up the sign) would be more likely to object to tables being moved than to people filling empty seats. In fact, I think they'd encourage filling empty seats if they could get away with it. Two people sitting at a table with four seats usually means that two other guests may have to wait for someone to finish before taking their seats. – Gray Nov 15 '13 at 19:48
  • 1
    @Gray Hmm, probably so. I could see the owners posting such a sign if there had been a problem with people walking in and sitting down at a table with other people. Like, I don't know, if it's a restaurant frequented by celebrities and fans have been coming in and trying to join their party or some such. But yeah, your theory is more likely. – Jay Nov 15 '13 at 21:58
  • So you're saying there's only 10 kinds of people in this world, those who know SQL and those who don't? ;-) – Jim Nov 16 '13 at 4:42
  • There are 3 kinds of people in the world: those who can count, and those who can't. :-) – Jay Nov 18 '13 at 16:42

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.