Touch and go

MTR’s obsession with the word ‘touch’ is beyond my comprehension. How would visitors make sense of this announcement? –
“Passengers with a smart ticket please use the blue gate – touch and go – …”
Incidentally, the Chinese announcement makes more sense “…拍咭入閘,拍咭出閘…”

A former student alerted me to the expression ‘Touch in, touch out’, used by London Transport. Well, I quite like that expression as the meaning can be easily inferred from the context.

I looked up the website of London Transport, and found that they, too, use the word ‘touch’ in expressions like ‘Touch your Oyster card on the yellow card readers.’ To me, the collocation ‘to touch something on something else’ is a bit odd. I myself would say ‘to tap your Oyster card on the yellow card reader’, which describes the action more accurately, and is a more natural collocation.

Some time ago, I was giving a talk to the S2 students at a secondary school and I imitated the action of tapping a card on a card reader and asked the students to think of a word that described the action. The first attempt came from a non-Chinese-speaking girl, and her answer was – ‘tap’!


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