October 30, 2008

#01-177: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 49

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: Is there any field in which you have a "magic touch," or do you know someone else who does?

Boomtown Chronicles Part XVIII - published Monday, October 20, 2008 (cont.)

  • Foxconn's sales "skyrocketed."

skyrocketed: rose very, very fast. Like the word "pocketed" in Lesson #01-176, this is a verb derived from a noun. Skyrockets are fireworks that fly up into the sky and explode. The key concept here is that they rise very, very fast--like Foxconn's profits rising from five billion U.S. dollars to 518 billion in just eleven years.

  • Foxconn's success was due its "successfully morphing" into a manufacturer of high-technology.

morph: change (specifically, change shape). Coming from an ancient Greek noun that means "shape" or "form," the use of "morph" as a verb is only 50 to 60 years old--younger than me!

  • The worker who left her test-photos in an Apple iPhone "became the center of an 'iPhone Girl' frenzy."

frenzy: a great deal of wild activity. It's related to the word phrenesis, an outdated description of a fever of the brain, which could cause a form of madness. We can still see the relationship to phrenesis in one adjective form of frenzy, "frenetic." And as you might guess, "frantic"--meaning extremely agitated or upset--shares the same root.

  • A "factory blooper" that led to the "iPhone girl's" fame.

blooper: an embarrassing mistake. Like "morph," this is a new word, originating less than a hundred years ago. Bloopers may be embarrassing, but they're not usually serious. There are two possible roots for this word. One is from baseball: when a batter tries to hit a ball hard but fails to do so, it bloops into the infield (not very far from the batter). Or, when one radio receives interference from another, it may make a blooping sound. In either case, there's little damage done.

  • Auto manufacturer BYD hopes Warren Buffet's "magic touch" will affect their sales.

magic touch: a sudden, unexplained improvement because of someone's involvement in a project. The company hopes Buffet's investment would just automatically makes things better.

  • BYD's new model, the e6, may be the next of Shenzhen's "fruit" sought throughout the world.

fruit: the product of something or someone. This humorously refers back to the discussion of litchis at the start of the article.


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

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

  1. blooper
  2. frenzy
  3. fruit
  4. magic touch
  5. morph
  6. skyrocketed

  1. Get Bill on your project team; he's got the ________.
  2. Laura didn't like her job, but she enjoyed the ________ of her labor.
  3. They had to shut the project down after costs ________.
  4. Ted made a hilarious ________ in his presentation, but the boss didn't seem to mind.
  5. The sudden drop in process caused a ________ of purchasing.
  6. It's great when a tiny, local business is able to ________ into an international conglomerate.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for October 28, 2008

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