July 15, 2008

#01-135: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 8

wide view of an urban area with bushes in the foreground, over which is written "READING BOOMTOWN CHRONICLES"
Shenzhen, the Boomtown

Note: Between Lesson #01-128 and #01-207, I wrote 72 lessons explaining expressions in articles published in the Shenzhen Daily. Read more about "Reading Boomtown Chronicles."

Get Ready: Have you ever had to struggle to make ends meet? Did you panic?

Boomtown Chronicles Part IV - published Monday, July 7, 2008

  • "ration coupons"

ration: an allocated amount, usually per person. So it is a ratio (x per y--kilos of rice per family, or liters of milk per person ), and derives from that mathematical word.

coupon: derived from the French word "coup," meaning to strike. The word coupon was first used in French meaning something which is "struck off" (or, as we would say now, cut out) of another piece of paper (such as a newspaper) or torn out of a coupon booklet.

  • Liu Jingxiu's mother found it hard to "make ends meet."

make ends meet: to have enough of something. (Ms Liu is the subject of the article.) Its origin is unsure, perhaps coming from clothes-making (having enough cloth to go around a person, so the ends meet) or accounting (where the columns in the account books should match, or "meet," at the bottom or "end" of the page).

  • Someone was smuggling cloth from Hong Kong

smuggle: What a funny-sounding word! It means "to import illegally," and comes from a German word with a similar sound and meaning.

  • "reform panic"

panic: Pan is a Greek god of sheep and wild mountain places. People often felt fear in these wild places, and were said to be taken by a "Panic frenzy." Thus it was originally an adjective which has become a verb (to panic) and a noun (a panic). I love words that bear evidence of former religious beliefs!

  • "people swarmed in"

swarmed: From a German word meaning "tumult," it is the technical word to describe a large number of bees on the move.

  • Development was hampered by parochial thinking.

hampered: to prevent free movement, similar to "hinder." It comes from a word meaning "enclosure" (a usage still seen in "clothes hamper") which in turn is related to "hem." While we usually think of "hem" as part of a garment, it is also used in expressions like "to hem (something) in," meaning to hamper its movement.

parochial: "of a parish" or a particular region. The adjective describes the attitude of people before globalization, when only what happened locally was important.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shenzhen

Practice: Choose the correct term to fill in the blank in the sentence below:

  1. coupon
  2. hampered
  3. make ends meet
  4. panic
  5. parochial
  6. ration
  7. smuggle
  8. swarmed

  1. The fans ________ out onto the field after their team won.
  2. The students used to ________ snacks into their dorm.
  3. His studies were ________ by the fact that he needed new glasses.
  4. Whatever else happens, if you are stopped by the police, don't ________!
  5. If you have a ________, you can probably save some money when you buy that new TV.
  6. ________ attitudes can create problems in international cooperation.
  7. We have used up all of our soda ________ until the next time we go shopping.
  8. Some people have to work two jobs just to ________.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for July 15, 2008

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. e; 2. c; 3. h; 4. d; 5. f; 6. g; 7. b; 8. a