October 14, 2008

#01-171: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 43

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 sort of mental work gives you a headache, literally or figuratively?

Boomtown Chronicles Part XVI - published Monday, October 6, 2008 (cont.)

In this lesson we'll be looking at some idioms.

  • The then-president of the Guangdong Nuclear Power Joint Venture Company, Wang Quanguo, "witnessed the twists and turns" of establishing the power plant at Daya Bay.

twists and turns: a common description of a complicated process, one which is not straightforward or as expected.

  • Guangdong "had a ... headache" in attempting to meet its electricity needs.

have a headache: face a challenge, especially one that requires a lot of thinking. We all know what a headache is, and how it feels. Here the expression is used more generally.

  • "Guangdong had been long plagued by severe energy shortages..."

plague: literally an epidemic. Figuratively, we can use it to name any kind of long-term problem. As a verb, then, it means to suffer from a problem. It can even be used jokingly, as when a boss repeatedly asks you to do something and you tell a colleague that the boss is "plaguing" you.

  • Two companies began "a 16-year painful slog" to establish the power plant.

slog: a long walk that makes one tired, or even a march, as by an army. As a verb, we can talk about "just slogging along." So this word, like "headache," indicates the difficulties of bringing nuclear power to mainland China for the first time.

  • "A rough estimate put the cost of the plant at around US$4 billion..."

rough: approximate. We can talk about a "rough draft" of a document--not the final, polished version--or a "rough sketch" of something. Such an estimate is sometimes called a "guesstimate," as it partakes of the nature both of a guess and an estimate.


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

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

  1. have a headache
  2. plague
  3. rough
  4. slog
  5. twists and turns

  1. How long will this head cold ________ me?
  2. Fred, give us a ________ sketch of the final project.
  3. A five-year plan means we're facing quite a ________.
  4. The lecturer threw out so many facts and figures that now I ________!
  5. The film was very exciting, because the plot was full of ________. 

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for October 14, 2008

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