August 05, 2008

#01-144: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 16

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: Are you a skeptic or a "true believer"? That is, how do you usually respond in critical moments, with analysis or "faith"?

Boomtown Chronicles Part VII - published Monday, July 28, 2008 (cont.)

Part VII discusses Deng Xiaoping's first visit to Shenzhen in 1984.

  • Deng, the "father of Shenzhen," is said to have "render[ed] timely aid to the youngster, who just started taking her first steps along the reform drive, to prevent her from stumbling."

youngster: a metaphor for the new city

first steps: the early stages of the city's development

stumbling: a symbol for the risks of failure that the city faced

  • Deng "steadied the wavering reform program..."

waver: like a baby (or adult) walking unsteadily; or experiencing indecision and uncertainty about what path to take; or an allusion to weak behavior caused by some kind of illness or injury.

  • The city's reforms were "under fire from skeptics."

under fire: being fired at, or attacked. "Fire" is the verb we use in reference to shooting guns, cannons, and other weapons using gunpowder.

skeptic: doubter; unbeliever. The word has its origins in the name of a school of philosophy in Ancient Greece, whose members closely examined issues before making decisions (the meaning of the word is "to examine").

Traditionalists in China were closely examining and criticizing the reforms in Shenzhen, but Deng Xiaoping was there to support the reforms.

  • Deng offered "the greatest encouragement and spur to the Shenzhen people."

spur: originally a noun, meaning a sharp device put on the heel and used to kick a horse to make it go faster. As a verb, it is somewhat less brutal, meaning "to encourage enthusiastically."

  • Deng's arrival "came at a critical time."

critical: from the word "crisis," meaning a time of decision, rather than "critic," one who judges. Many think that a "crisis" means a disaster, but in fact it simply means a decisive moment.


Read more:

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

  1. critical
  2. first steps
  3. skeptic
  4. spur
  5. stumbling
  6. under fire
  7. waver
  8. youngster

  1. A good job is often the ________ that encourages a student to study harder.
  2. When choosing a seat on the bus, it's important not to ________ too long or all the good ones will be taken.
  3. She added lights to her garden path to keep her from ________ in the dark.
  4. When I was just a ________, I really loved cottage cheese.
  5. In ________ moments, we should gather as much information as we can before making a choice.
  6. The crooked politician came ________ for his unapproved personal spending.
  7. It's better to be a ________ who is unhappy than a believer who is deceived.
  8. Admitting we have a problem is one of the ________ toward solving it.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for August 5, 2008

1 comment:

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