back up a second

jing ping

Member
Chinese - Mandarin
Tracy is phrasing a quotation e-mail in English and meanwhile asking Melanie for advice.
Tracy: “The final costing, including advert design and production, comes to forty-five thousand six hundred RMB. We want payment ten working days before publication or we will cancel the ad. Thanks for...”.
Melanie: Woo, okay, back up a second Tracy. That’s too direct. Can I suggest you say, “Please note that final payment is due two working weeks before publication”? You don’t want to offend her.

I'm wondering what "back up" and "a second" mean separately.
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    "Back up a second" is a bit like "hold on a minute". It means stop for a moment and go backwards, in this case in order to change the wording to a more polite form.

    There should have been a comma between "second" and "Tracy".
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I agree.

    "A second" means "briefly".

    "Back up" means "do not continue in this direction; consider a change in direction". It is a metaphor for driving a car.

    The comma is needed because "Tracy" is not part of the command (imperative sentence). "Tracy" is the person the command "back up" is addressed to.
     

    jing ping

    Member
    Chinese - Mandarin
    "Back up a second" is a bit like "hold on a minute". It means stop for a moment and go backwards, in this case in order to change the wording to a more polite form.

    There should have been a comma between "second" and "Tracy".
    I agree.

    "A second" means "briefly".

    "Back up" means "do not continue in this direction; consider a change in direction". It is a metaphor for driving a car.

    The comma is needed because "Tracy" is not part of the command (imperative sentence). "Tracy" is the person the command "back up" is addressed to.
    Back up = go back to the previous words
    Thank you all.
     
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