October 06, 2008

#01-167: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 39

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: What, in your mind, are the limits of egalitarianism? I mean, in what ways should everyone be equal, and in what ways would differences be acceptable?

Boomtown Chronicles Part XV - published Monday, October 6, 2008

  • Subtitle: "First city to abolish egalitarianism"

egalitarianism: usually, this means the practice if teaching all people equally. But the article makes clear that the meaning here is different: "The national practice prevailing before 1980 [was] to 'equalize the poor and the rich'..." This is the egalitarianism "abolished" in the title. It's what we often call "socialism," which ideally does not permit what we now call "wealth gaps."

The good egalitarianism, which allows political and social equality, is still practiced in China. Likewise, some aspects of the economy, such as equal opportunity, also remain egalitarian.

  • "regardless of one's performance in work..."

regardless: without being concerned about. The author uses the correct word, but often this is wrongly phrased "irregardless of..." Experts believe that some people try to fuse "irrespective" or similar words with "regardless." Regardless means "without regard (to); adding the ir- makes it "not without regard (to)," a double negative which makes it mean "with regard (to)" again! (Note that when expressed "with(out) regard" the proper preposition is "to"; with "regardless" it's "of.")

  • Two unpleasant words: "stagnation" and "bankrupt."

stagnate: to stop running or flowing (as water) or stop growing or developing (as productivity or an economy). "Stagnant" is the adjective, and the word used, "stagnation," is the noun. They are all based on the Latin word stagnum, meaning swamp--a place into which water flows, but either doesn't flow out of, or flows so slowly that it becomes foul and largely unusable.

bankrupt: out of cash and other resources; unable to participate in business any more. This word has a colorful story. Bank came to English by way of Late Latin, but was borrowed from a purely Germanic word for "bench." This was a reference to the table used by a moneychanger. The syllable -rupt, is from a purely Latin word meaning "to break." (We find this in other words, such as interrupt = break between, and disrupt = break apart.) So when a moneychanger had no more money, his bench was broken (to prevent him from doing any more business) and he was literally "bench-broken" = bankrupt.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shenzhen

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

  1. bankrupt
  2. egalitarian
  3. regardless
  4. stagnate

  1. We're going on the hike ________ of the weather.
  2. In attempting to start a business he ended up going ________.
  3. It's important to keep coming up with fresh ideas so your business doesn't________.
  4. It's difficult to run an organization in an ________ way; people will feel more comfortable if someone is in charge.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for October 6, 2008

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