November 03, 2008

#01-178: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 50

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: Are you an "old hand" at anything, or do you know someone who is?

Boomtown Chronicles Part XVII: Sidebar - published Monday, October 13, 2008

In Lessons #01-173, #01-174, and #01-175, I wrote about the article "A forgotten cultural treasure trove" that appeared in the Shenzhen Daily on Monday, October 13. That article also had two "sidebars": one about British archeologist Peter Thompson, and the other about major discoveries in Shenzhen. Let's take a look at the Peter Thompson article.

  • Title: "Briton left historical legacy"

Briton: person from Great Britain, especially England. In the past, it was mainly used to describe the Celtic people who inhabited the southern part of the island of Britain before the Roman invasions. It is now a synonym for any British person. *This Briton, Peter Thompson, was an Englishman--that is, he was born of English parents, but in Yunnan.

legacy: what somebody leaves behind, handing it down to the future.

  • Thompson was "an old China hand."

old China hand: a foreigner with a good understanding of China and Chinese ways. The word "hand" can be used in this sense in other expressions, such as "he's an old hand at playing chess," or "he was a poor hand at carpentry."

  • One of Peter Thompson's interests was "Chinese folk culture."

folk: generally refers to the "common people," rather than the cultural elite. So "folk culture" would be the handcrafts and simple arts of everyday people, such as the "stone carving, embroidery and knitting" mentioned in the article.

  • Thompson "ventured into many little-known places in Shenzhen."

ventured: took a risk; dared to go. It is clearly related to "adventure"; "venture" is simply a later variant of "adventure." When we consider the meaning "to take a risk," we can understand the term "venture capitalist": One who invests his or her money at some risk, leading to either greater gain or greater loss. In fact, another term for this kind of investor is "risk capitalist."


Read more:

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

  1. Briton
  2. folk
  3. legacy
  4. old China hand
  5. ventured

  1. I would rather hear someone sing ________ tunes than opera.
  2. He got scared when he ________ into the forest at night.
  3. Part of his ________ included leaving his books to the local library.
  4. You'll learn a lot more about village life if you travel with an ________.
  5. Even though he was a ________, he spoke Mandarin fluently.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for November 3, 2008

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