How late is too late? 多晚算太晚?

How late is too late?

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你也許聽說過“better late than never 晚來總比不來強”這個說法。那麼,到底多晚算太晚?生活在不同文化背景中的人,對時間的概念、對“遲到”的定義大相徑庭。本集《隨身英語》帶你了解來自不同國家的人對“遲到”的定義和看法。

課文內容

Vocabulary: time 詞彙:時間

Time flies, or so they say. No matter where you are, humans are constantly measuring and checking time. Some of us are good at it – planning and doing things way ahead of time – while others are always trying to beat the clock and do things at the eleventh hour. And that’s only if you’re on time. What about if you are behind time?

Tardiness can be serious. If you were one minute late for work, would you resign? It may sound extreme to many of us, but that is exactly what occurred in the UK upper chamber of parliament, the House of Lords, in January 2018. International development minister Lord Bates arrived one minute late, and, as a result, was unable to answer a scheduled question. Instead of trying to make up for lost time, as many might do, he resigned on the spot. He apologised for his discourtesy and stated that he was ashamed. His resignation, though, was not accepted by the UK prime minister.

So, how late is too late? Many cultures take punctuality very seriously, whereas others seem to accept lagging behind as just the normal way of things. Members of the BBC from various different cultures were asked about the concept of timekeeping in their native countries and responded with a raft of answers.

BBC employees from Latin America, Rwanda and Sri Lanka said that there are more flexible attitudes to timekeeping in their cultures. In Latin America, things may happen five minutes, 20 minutes, an hour or even two after they were planned. Whereas, in Sri Lanka, lateness is a part of the daily routine. This is because of poor infrastructure and heavy traffic conditions. In Rwanda, those who attend to deadlines with rigid timekeeping are said to be ‘like a typical European’. This is in a place where it is not unusual to arrive at 11am for a meeting which started at nine.

On the other hand, German and Japanese employees mentioned a stricter adherence to time. In Japan, it is common to make an effort to arrive with time to spare for an appointment. Those who arrived at the stroke of nine to a meeting starting at nine a.m. would be considered late. In Germany, however, if a dinner party were to begin at eight, a person who had arrived five minutes prior, may walk around the block to ensure that they arrive at eight on the dot.

It seems that the answer is subjective, and what is considered acceptable is based on culture. That said, if you don’t mind waiting, it might be best to attend your appointments in good time. And if the worst comes to the worst, remember the old English proverb. Better late than never.

詞彙表

time flies 時光飛逝
ahead of time 提前
beat the clock “戰勝時間”,提前完成工作,趕時間(做某事)
at the eleventh hour 在最後一刻,在最後時刻
on time 按時,準時
behind time 遲到
tardiness 延遲,拖拉
scheduled 已安排的
make up for lost time 彌補失去的時間
late 晚的,遲的
punctuality 準時性,守時
lag 掉隊,滯後
timekeeping 守時
deadline 截止日期,最後期限
rigid timekeeping 嚴格的時間規定
with time to spare 有富裕的時間
at the stroke of 剛好在…的時候
prior 在…之前
on the dot 準時
in good time 提早,有充裕時間的
better late than never 晚來總比不來強;遲做總比不做好

測驗與練習

1. 
閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. What did Lord Bates do when he arrived late at the House of Lords in January 2018?

2. True or false: All cultures have the same attitude towards punctuality.

3. Which three cultures mentioned in the text have a more flexible attitude to timekeeping?

4. What would German people do if they found themselves five minutes early for a party?

5. Which word in the text means ‘rudeness’?

2. 請在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單字填入句子的空格處。

1. Ladies and Gentlemen. Due to our speedy take off and the calm weather, I am pleased to say we are currently 15 minutes ______.

on time       behind time       late       ahead of time

2. If you’re going to work on the railroad, you’ll need ______. You can’t be late by even half a minute.

tardiness       scheduled       on the dot       rigid timekeeping

3. The register said I was late, but actually I arrived 5 minutes ______ to the recorded time.

in good time       prior       with time to spare       lagging

4. They say that the ghost will appear on October 31st ______ midnight.

on time       scheduled       at the stroke of       on the dot

5. I had to quit. I loved the work, but I couldn’t deal with all the ______. You never had enough time to do anything.

tardiness       deadlines       lagging       in good time

答案

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. What did Lord Bates do when he arrived one minute late at the House of Lords in January 2018?
He apologised for his discourtesy and stated that he was ashamed. He then resigned on the spot. 

2. True or false: All cultures have the same attitude towards punctuality.
False.  Many cultures take punctuality very seriously, whereas others seem to accept lagging behind as just the way of things.

3. Which three cultures mentioned in the text have a more flexible attitude to timekeeping?
BBC employees from Latin America, Rwanda and Sri Lanka mentioned more flexible attitudes to timekeeping in their cultures.

4. What might German people do if they found themselves five minutes early for a party?
They may walk around the block to ensure that they arrive at eight on the dot.

5. Which word in the text means ‘rudeness’?
‘Discourtesy’ (He apologised for his discourtesy and stated that he was ashamed.)

2. 請在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單字填入句子的空格處。

1. Ladies and Gentlemen. Due to our speedy take off and the calm weather, I am pleased to say we are currently 15 minutes ahead of time.

2. If you’re going to work on the railroad, you’ll need rigid timekeeping. You can’t be late by even half a minute.

3. The register said I was late, but actually I arrived 5 minutes prior to the recorded time.

4. They say that the ghost will appear on October 31st at the stroke of midnight.

5. I had to quit. I loved the work, but I couldn’t deal with all the deadlines. You never had enough time to do anything.

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