September 23, 2008

#01-165: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 37

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 donated blood? Have you ever received a transfusion?

Boomtown Chronicles Part XIV - published Monday, September 15, 2008 (cont.)

  • Voluntary blood donation was "unheard of" in 1993.

 unheard of: no one had heard of it. Change the un- prefix to "not" and you get "not heard of."

  • "The numbers speak for themselves."

speak for themselves: do not need to be explained. This can be said about many things, not only numbers. A politician might say, "My record speaks for itself."

  • Shenzhen Blood Center vice director Lan Xiaoyu is "one of the most telling witnesses of the changes."

telling: having a strong effect. It doesn't mean Lan Xiaoyu "told" something. If you lose 2 yuan, that's a small loss. If you lose 2 million yuan, that's a telling loss.

  • "People were lukewarm" to the idea of giving blood.

lukewarm: only mildly felling something. "Luke" is from an Old English word meaning "mild," so "lukewarm" means "mildly warm." We use it figuratively to say that feelings are neither "hot" nor "cold." If someone receives a "lukewarm" reception, they weren't chased away, but they weren't enthusiastically welcomed, either.

  • The article describes a "breakthrough."

breakthrough: a moment of great change, especially when some difficulty has been "broken through." We have lots of compound words using "break": people getting a divorce have a "breakup," there may be an "outbreak" of disease, someone might have a mental "breakdown," and so on.

  • The purpose of these blood donations was to provide supplies for "transfusions."

transfusions: the moving of blood from one person to another. Both parts of the word come from Latin. Trans- means "across," "beyond," or "through." Fuse in this case means "to pour." (In other cases, it means "to join" or "to blend.") So the word "transfuse" means "to pour from one container to another." In blood transfusions, the "containers" are people's bodies, and the blood is taken from one and put into another.


Read more:

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

  1. breakdown
  2. breakthrough
  3. breakup
  4. lukewarm
  5. outbreak
  6. speak for themselves
  7. telling
  8. transfusions
  9. unheard of

  1. Many small acts of kindness can make a ________ difference.
  2. She hasn't seen anyone since her ________ with Ron.
  3. Hermione was hospitalized last year for a nervous ________.
  4. The poorly-written book received only a ________ reception.
  5. After the accident, Harry needed several ________.
  6. The results of the election ________: people are tired of the former guy.
  7. We were lucky that there was an early ________ in the development of the vaccine.
  8. Before the 1910s the idea of private individuals traveling by air was ________.
  9. The sudden ________ of lice caused the school to send children home for a few days.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for September 23, 2008

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. c; 2. g; 3. b; 4. d; 5. i; 6. f; 7. a; 8. e; 9. h