October 28, 2008

#01-176: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 48

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 collected anything--stamps, coins, pencils, and so on? What was the crown jewel of your collection?

Boomtown Chronicles Part XVIII: - published Monday, October 13, 2008

  • "colossal freighters"

colossal: gigantic. The Colossus of Rhodes, a gigantic statue of the sun god Helios, was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (as listed by Philo of Byzantium in 225 BCE). This word comes in turn, from a Greek word used to describe giant statues in Egypt. So something that is "colossal" is huge, like a Colossus.

  • The litchi fruit is the "crown jewel" of south China's exports.

crown jewel: the very best. Naturally, in fashioning a crown for a monarch, only the best jewels will be used.

  • "Even the simple export of litchis wasn't smooth sailing."

smooth sailing: a pleasant experience, without complications. Anyone who has been on the sea knows the difference between rough sailing and smooth: things are much nicer for everyone when the sailing is smooth.

  • "Shenzhen city tried to stem the illegal trade" in litchis.

stem: to stop. It comes from a Germanic word meaning to "dam up"; ironically, the word can also mean "to start," as in "The problem stemmed from the people's desire to make money." This comes from another Germanic root meaning "to stand up."

  • The then-vice mayor "gave the green light" to setting new prices.

give the green light: approve; tell someone to go ahead.

  • Shenzhen was a "nascent city."

nascent: being born. It's related to more familiar words like "native" (someone born in a place) and "prenatal" (before birth). Its connection to "renaissance"--rebirth--can be seen even more clearly.

  • The city's office trade office "pocket[ed] more than half a million yuan..."

pocket: literally, "to put in one's pocket." It is one of the many cases of a noun changing into a verb. You can imagine what is meant when we "shelve" a book or "bag" a trophy or "bottle" some water.

  • Shenzhen was "given a freer hand" in experimenting with market reform.

given a free hand: allowed to work independently. The city was given more independence.


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

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

  1. colossal
  2. crown jewel
  3. give the green light
  4. given a free hand
  5. nascent
  6. pocket
  7. smooth sailing
  8. stem

  1. The owners tried to ________ the losses resulting from employee theft.
  2. Do you think the board will ________ to our proposal?
  3. Frank was fired for making a ________blunder, one that cost his company millions.
  4. If the managers were ________, we might see more innovation.
  5. He would often overcharge the customer, then ________ the difference.
  6. The Picasso was the ________ of her art collection.
  7. Once their new company overcame its growing pains, it was ________ from there on out.
  8. The new owners were excited about the potential of their ________ company.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for October 28, 2008

1 comment:

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