September 04, 2008

#01-157: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 29

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: Would you consider yourself a pragmatist, or are you more of a dreamer? Give your reason for saying so.

Boomtown Chronicles Part XI - published Monday, August 25, 2008 (cont.)

  • "overriding importance"

override: take precedence over something, or even conquer it ("He used sheer willpower to override his urge to smoke"). Imagine one man riding a horse over another; the one "overridden" would clearly be subordinate to the one "overriding." You'll find this word in many technological applications: a "manual override switch," etc.

  • Deng was a "pragmatist."

pragmatism: the philosophy of being practical (pragmatikos is simply the Greek word for "practical").

  • Deng introduced a brand of "dynamism."

dynamism: great energy, force, or power. The Greek root dynamikos means "active or powerful"; adding the -ism makes this into a system.

  • The reform was then "in full swing."

in full swing: in total operation; at peak capacity. It may have originated with bell ringers, who made the loudest sound when they pulled the rope hard and the bell was "in full swing." We can easily picture the same meaning to describe a sportsperson (a golfer or baseball batter, for instance).

  • In 1992 China chose to "pilot" reforms in several more cities.

pilot: to do tests or trials to see if something will work. We are used to hearing this as a noun ("He's an airline pilot,") but this is a verb. One meaning could be similar to the noun, "to pilot a plane." But the meaning here is different. In this case, the original trial "pilots" (guides) the ones that follow, just as a pilot guides the actions of a ship or airplane. By the way, the initial episode of a TV show, made to test if the show will be worth making, is called "the pilot." We often use the word as an adjective as well: "pilot project," "pilot run," etc.

  • Many places in China have "achieved economic lift-off."

lift-off: the launching of a space rocket. Although it can also be used for airplanes, we more commonly say "take-off." The term can be used figuratively to describe the successful beginning or "launch" of any project.


Read more:

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

  1. dynamism
  2. in full swing
  3. lift-off
  4. override
  5. pilot
  6. pragmatism

  1. After the shuttle achieved ________ it separated from its launch module.
  2. The ________ of this new crop of freshman students can be exhausting!
  3. We need to ________ these lessons before we publish them for general use.
  4. The judge decided to ________ the jury's "not guilty" verdict and convict the defendant anyway.
  5. Once the program was ________ it began to attract more participants.
  6. My boss's ________ eliminates a lot of wasted activity.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for September 4, 2008

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