July 21, 2008

#01-137: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 9

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: What, in your opinion, are the hallmarks of a good student, or employee, or whatever it is you work at right now?

Boomtown Chronicles Part V - published Monday, July 14, 2008

  • Subtitle: "Maverick reformer and his Shekou"

maverick: a stray cow, one who doesn't stay with the herd. The word comes from the surname of a Texas rancher from the 19th century who left his calves unbranded, so any unclaimed animal was called a "maverick." Calling a man a "maverick," then, means he's an independent thinker, one who doesn't follow the crowd. Yuan Geng, founder of Shekou (an area in Shenzhen) was such a maverick.

  • "the 'test tube' of the country's reform."

test tube: the specific place in the laboratory in which certain experiments are performed. So, since all of Shenzhen was the laboratory (see Lesson #01-132), Shekou was the test tube.

  • Shekou was imprinted with Yuan's "colorful hallmarks."

hallmarks: characteristics. Originally the term was used for the marks made on gold and silver items by London's Goldsmiths' Hall to indicate their purity.

  • Yuan was "audacious" and a former "guerilla."

audacious: daring or bold, from a Latin word related to the English word "avid." Though most English speakers know this term, we seldom use in everyday speech. That is, it's a "passive vocabulary" word. You can't imagine someone introducing a friend: "This is my friend Bob; he's audacious."

guerilla: a fighter, but not a regular soldier. Although in English it's pronounced almost exactly like "gorilla," a large ape, in Spanish it's gair-EE-ya, derived from the word guerra (GAIR-ah) meaning "war." A guerilla would be in a small group that could move fast and strike unexpectedly. Yuan Geng had been a literal guerilla; but we often use the word figuratively, like "a guerilla sales team" that can operate responsively to the market.

  • Yuan Geng was "tapped to run China Merchants Group..."

tapped: This simply means "chosen," but you can see how this is derived from the literal meaning, as in "to tap someone on the shoulder."


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

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

  1. audacious
  2. guerilla
  3. hallmarks
  4. maverick
  5. tapped
  6. test tube

  1. She placed the chemicals in a ________ and shook it to see what the reaction would be.
  2. The teacher couldn't believe the student was ________ enough to cheat right in front of her.
  3. The board's vice president was ________ to take over when the president resigned.
  4. I'm not sure Phil will be comfortable working with the team; he's kind of a ________.
  5. We don't have time to form a proper sales campaign; let's just go in and hit key customers with a ________ strategy.
  6. Creative thinking is one of the ________ of a good employee.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for July 21, 2008

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