November 13, 2008

#01-183: Reading Boomtown Chronicles 53

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 #01-208, I wrote 72 lessons explaining expressions in articles published in the Shenzhen Daily. Read more about "Reading Boomtown Chronicles."

Get Ready: Do you think graffiti qualifies as "art"? Why or why not?

Boomtown Chronicles Part XIX - published Monday, November 3, 2008 (cont.)

  • The Shenzhen Adolescent Activity Center "sound[ed] out" the reaction of the public to having shows on their stage.

sound something out: try to learn people's opinions about something. To "sound someone out" is to try to learn his or her opinion.

Let's say you have an idea at work, and you want your boss's opinion. You can "sound your idea out on the boss"; or you can "sound the boss out on your idea." Either is correct. (Also, as with any phrasal verb, you can "sound out someone" or something.) "Sound" here, by the way, is not about what we hear. It's a verb meaning to test the depth of something: "They sounded the river to see if it was navigable."

  • Once the S.A.A.C. invited volunteers to perform from the audience, "there was no looking back."

no looking back: no chance to change one's mind. The course of future activities was fixed, with no doubt.

  • Shan Xiehe, vice director of the S.A.A.C., mentioned "peak times."

peak time: the time of highest volume or activity. In the summer, when there are lots of air conditioners being used, people are encouraged not to use other large appliances (like washing machines) during "peak times"--afternoons--to prevent straining the power system. The "peak time" for traffic is also called "rush hour." And it's tough to get a train ticket during "peak travel times," like the big holidays. A" peak," of course, is the highest part of a mountain.


In the final part of the article, "DJ TKO," an American working in Shenzhen, commented on the development of the hip-hop scene in Shenzhen.

  • His career here rode "on the heels" of a successful party he held in 2000.

on the heels of something: following closely after something. If Mike were chasing Bob and were about to catch him, Mike would appear to be "on Bob's heels." So DJ TKO's success followed closely after his party in 2000.

  • He also said that, if you want to be a hip-hop artist in Shenzhen, "The sky's the limit."

the sky's the limit: there is no limit. After all, who can reach the sky?

  • The work of local artist YYY, we are told, "speaks volumes for Chinese graffiti."

volumes: books. This is not about the amount of something, like "high volume," or the sound of something: "Turn down the volume!" Instead, it's as though YYY's work tells us "booksful" of things about Chinese graffiti.

graffiti: markings, whether letters, words, or drawings, on public structures like walls, bridges, and sidewalks. Often the graffiti can be very attractive, but sometimes it's a nuisance.


Read more:

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

  1. graffiti
  2. no looking back
  3. on the heels of
  4. peak time
  5. sound out
  6. the sky's the limit
  7. volumes

  1. It's best not to travel during________, if you have a choice.
  2. Sadly, the rock star's arrest came ________ of his debut album, damaging his future sales.
  3. He wanted to ________ his dad on the possibility of buying a car.
  4. Once you get your diploma, ________.
  5. He wrote "I love you" in ________ on the wall in front of her house.
  6. When the band signed a contract, there was ________: their success was assured.
  7. He had numerous ________ on his shelf, but none had the information he needed.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for November 13, 2008

1 comment:

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