August 07, 2008

#01-145: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 17

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 more of a concrete thinker or an abstract thinker?

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

Let's finish our examination of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's first visit to Shenzhen, in 1984.

  • One official referred to Shenzhen at that time as being "on the brink of collapse."

brink: edge; here it is like the "critical point" in Lesson #01-144, that is, a time when important decisions must be made, a sort of turning point. So to say the city was "on the brink of collapse" is to say that the reforms were about to fail.

  • Deng visited the "hamlet" of Yumin Village.

hamlet: a quaint word meaning a small village. -let is a diminutive ending, that is, one that makes something smaller; ham is related to the word "home." So a hamlet is a small home place.

  • The villagers of Yumin had been "living in dire poverty."

dire: from a word meaning "fearful" or "terrible," it means "extreme," and is only used to modify negative nouns. We would never refer to "dire happiness" or "dire health," but "dire grief" or "dire illness" would be appropriate phrases.

  • Deng "gave the nod" to one of Shekou founder Yuan Geng's famous catchphrases.

give the nod: to approve, or say yes to, something, as a nod indicates "yes" to English speakers.

  • Deng Xiaoping wrote that Shenzhen was a "concrete testament" to the "correctness" of establishing special economic zones.

concrete: tangible; solid. This wasn't just theoretical evidence; Shenzhen's success was evidence for all to see that an SEZ could work.


Read more:

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

  1. brink
  2. concrete
  3. dire
  4. give the nod
  5. hamlet

  1. Paul Revere alerted every ________ and town he rode through that the British were coming.
  2. People learn better from ________ examples than from abstract ideas.
  3. Many people believe we are on the ________ of exciting new discoveries in the biological sciences.
  4. As soon as I ________, you may start the race.
  5. Failure to follow my instructions exactly could lead to ________ consequences.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for August 7, 2008

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