August 28, 2008

#01-154: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 26

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: If you could go on any kind of spree, what kind would it be?

Boomtown Chronicles Part X - published Monday, August 18, 2008 (cont.)

  • Splendid China "recouped" its cost in its first nine months of operation.

recoup: recover; literally, recut or cut again. It was originally a legal word meaning "to deduct"; it is still used this way in legal terminology. It is closely related to the more Anglicized word "recuperate," usually used now in reference to recovering one's health.

  • OCT "ignited" a "spree."

ignited: literally, set on fire. Here it means to start something, especially something that continues to grow larger.

spree: a lively outing. This might originally have been spreath, the cattle that were stolen in a raid. Soon the raid itself came to be called a spreath, and that joyous experience--stealing someone's cattle--came to be called a spree. It is now often used to describe overindulgence in something, as "a spending spree" or "an eating spree."

  • This spree saw "theme parks spring up."

spring up: grow (or be built) quickly. The phrase calls to mind the sort of speed that has become associated with construction in Shenzhen. In fact, The China Folk Cultural Villages opened less than two years after Splendid China, and Window of the World followed only three years after that, "springing up" indeed. Happy Valley amusement park followed only four years after that, making four major parks in less than a decade. The term "Shenzhen speed" was coined to describe phenomena such as these.

  • Happy Valley has a yearly "carnival."

carnival: generally, a small circus or festival. But the origin of the term lies in a special kind of feast tied to the Christian calendar. Just before the forty days of fasting called Lent (see Lesson #05-008) that lead to Easter, people would celebrate wildly--perhaps to get all the excitement out of their systems! Part of this celebration involved eating all the meat in the house, as it couldn't be eaten during Lent. So one possible derivation of "carnival" is the Latin phrase carne vale-- Goodbye Meat! There is now a yearly Brazilian festival with colorful dancers and Latin music. This is what is performed at Happy Valley.


Read more:

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

  1. carnival
  2. ignited
  3. recoup
  4. spree
  5. spring up

  1. She had to hide the credit cards to keep her son from going on a shopping ________.
  2. Many stores are having big sales in an effort to ________ the losses they've suffered due to the pandemic.
  3. The school holds a nice little ________ every year as a fundraiser, with pony rides and a water balloon toss.
  4. New apartment buildings are beginning to ________ all over the city.
  5. The school board's new policies ________ a protest among the parents.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for August 28, 2008

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