August 04, 2008

#01-143: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 15

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 an achievement overshadowed by someone or something else?

Boomtown Chronicles Part VII - published Monday, July 28, 2008

Part VII tells of the first visit of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping to Shenzhen in 1984.

  • The author refers to Deng as the "father of Shenzhen."

the father of something: a well-known metaphor for the founder of something. As Deng's policies led to the creation of Shenzhen's Special Economic Zone, he is said to be the city's "father." As we'll see in Lesson #01-144, this metaphor will be extended to describe Deng's relationship to Shenzhen even further.

This same metaphor has been used in many fields. In America, George Washington, the first president of the United States, is referred to as the "father of his country"; Edison is the father of the electric light; and so on.

  • Deng was the "late Chinese leader."

late: deceased; passed away. It can be used to mean "former," even of someone who is still alive, but it's better to restrict it to the dead to avoid confusion.

Example: "my former boss" if she's still alive, but "my late boss" if she has passed away.

  • Deng "hand-picked" Shenzhen to be China's first Special Economic Zone.

hand-picked: personally selected. The image comes from farming, where a worker examines the fruit to see if it's ripe before picking it, something a machine can't do. The implication is that personal concern and judgment were used to ensure a good result.

  • The 1984 trip was "overshadowed by Deng's famous 1992 landmark Southern Tour."

overshadowed: to be less famous than, or even forgotten because of. If, for example, two brothers go into the same line of work, and the younger becomes more famous than the elder, we can say the elder was overshadowed by the younger. The image implies that the more famous one was bigger, and threw the less famous one into the shade.

landmark: A landmark is literally a navigation point; if you are lost in Manhattan and see the Empire State Building in the distance, you will know where you are, and can use the Empire State as a guide to find your way. By extension, any famous or noted event can be referred to as a "landmark" when it makes a big impression; all of Shenzhen's history was affected by the 1992 visit, making it a landmark indeed.


Read more:

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

  1. father
  2. hand-picked
  3. landmark
  4. late
  5. overshadowed

  1. Before he died, my ________ grandfather was a well-known musician.
  2. The Supreme Court handed down a ________ decision concerning women's rights.
  3. Galileo is sometimes called "the ________ of science."
  4. The politician's achievements were ________ by his arrest on corruption charges.
  5. I'd like to suggest several books that I ________ just for you.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for August 4, 2008

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