September 01, 2008

#01-155: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 27

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 done or seen anything phenomenal? What was it?

Boomtown Chronicles Part XI - published Monday, August 25, 2008

  • Title: "Deng's 1992 trip initiated era of rapid reform"

era: an unspecified period of time, but one which is somehow unified by a common character or defined by a notable event.

  • The success of China's economy is described as "phenomenal."

phenomenal: extraordinary; highly unusual. This is the adjective form of the word "phenomenon" (plural "phenomena"), which at its root simply means an event or an incident. But we often use the word to mean a noteworthy or unusual event.

  • In 1992, China's "economic restructuring was stalling."

stall: stop; stay in place. Surprisingly, this is related to the word "stall" used to describe a booth, or a place where an animal lives. Think of it this way: If you don't want your horse to go anywhere, you stall him (or install him in a stall). So if your car stalls, it won't go anywhere either!

  • Shenzhen, as the pioneer of so many innovative policies, has been the "touchstone" for many other cities in China, setting the standard of quality.

touchstone: a piece of stone used to test the quality of gold or silver. In metallurgy, black quartz was rubbed against alloys. The mark made by this action helped determine how much gold or silver was in the alloy. A figurative sense developed, in which a "touchstone" was a basis of comparison, used to test the quality of something.

  • A speech of Deng's refers to questions that were "binding people's minds..."

bind: tie up; wrap. Binding people's minds, then, prevents them from "running free."

  • Deng's tour "unleashed tremendous economic energy..."

unleashed: set free. A leash is a rope or other lead used to restrict a dog's (or other animal's) movements. Hence to be "unleashed" is to be unbound, or set free--the opposite of "bind."


Read more:

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

  1. bind
  2. era
  3. phenomenal
  4. stalls
  5. touchstone
  6. unleashed

  1. Ella Fitzgerald's style became the ________ by which all other singers were judged.
  2. If the committee ________ much longer, we're going to have to go ahead without their approval.
  3. The mayor's election opened a new ________ of cooperation and progress.
  4. A contract can be used to ________ the behavior of both parties.
  5. The new company was praised for the ________ growth exhibited in its first year.
  6. The governor's foolish mistakes ________ a storm of controversy.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for September 1, 2008

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