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THINKING ALOUD (LearnEnglish) WORDS for better Vocabulary at Leisure or Business

Updated on March 29, 2017
Charlie Chaplin-The Kid 1921: A Silent Comedy-Drama
Charlie Chaplin-The Kid 1921: A Silent Comedy-Drama | Source

Descriptive Adjectives

If you think you have a good command of the English language having learned the language for a few years now?

Sorry, I will have to take your words with a pinch of salt!

Let me just ask you: what is your understanding of the term "table salt"? You may actually know the meaning of each of the two words as used separately. But having the two words together – with ‘table’ describing ‘salt’ giving the term a specific meaning -- you may not be any wiser.

You may ask: Is it not "sea salt" an edible food? Well, table and sea salt is not exactly the same thing to a discerning consumer of these products. Both are edible products derived from the sea; and others from salt deposit which have to be extracted from land mines. But there are salt types that are not edible.

Fleur de sel and Kosher? Fanciful names! These are more expensive salt prized for their low sodium content and finer texture. As I am no dietitian, I will not get into a discourse on their various properties and uses. Otherwise, you may take my words with a pinch of salt.

I write this article for the benefit of new learners of the English language, especially those increasingly avid learners from China. The interesting part about building a vocabulary vault that includes descriptive adjective words is: One gets to delve into finer areas of particular trade or hobbies. So, if you want to be a great chef or perhaps just to cook delicious meals for your family, it pays to start building a comprehensive vocabulary that includes descriptive adjective words. Certainly, your primary objective is still to keep improving your linguistic skills.

Adding grains of salt to a secret concoction including some rare herbs was an ancient remedy against all poisons. Nevertheless, you should never take my wordy generalization for it. But if you insist on trying, I suggest you take it with a pinch of salt, figuratively speaking!

Himalayan Salt Rock?
Himalayan Salt Rock? | Source

ENGLISH IDIOMS

  • Take with a pinch of salt

    bié shí zú xiāng xìn

  • Salt and pepper

    duō zhǒng zú de

  • Worth your salt

    zhí dé fù chū

  • Rub salt inTO a wound

    shāng kǒu shàng sā yán

WORDS for better vocabulary

Writer: Chén Róng



Humans have always communicated through the spoken word. Few normal people could use the unspoken word as masterfully as the iconic Charlie Chaplin who was able to make the silent comedy-drama "The Kid" an American film success in 1921. The firm is being preserved as a legacy in the Library of Congress-National Film Registry.

For the rest of us, our ideas often ride on the vehicle of words -- individual words or their combination. The more word power we possess, the better fluency will be in our reading, comprehension, retention and expression. English is said to possess about a million words; and it is all inclusive in a number consisting of all sorts of words and phrases -- slang, colloquial, standard, foreign and jargon used by professionals. But words -- seemingly ordinary ones -- can have different shades of meaning, depending on the context in which they are being used. The fact that we are familiar with their roots or building blocks, more often than not, we can well identify the various off-shoots, that is, the different words growing out of the common root. For that reason, many of us do not bother to look up the dictionary to get a clearer meaning than is apparent, partly because of laziness as the distraction might cause us to lose our trend of thought. The main reason could be that we think we know the meaning of those words from their roots. In truth, there is more to their meanings than meets the eye.

The writer has this experience to share with all interested readers. Reading an article on a study of earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, there were three suggested areas the study was looking into, namely: Porosity, permeability and fracturing. These words were derived from their roots: Porous, permeable and fracture; common words which many of us have come across and leaving us feeling rather intimate with their meanings. By looking up the dictionary, we will be escorted to the inner and significant meanings of these words. In the present case, these words have become linguistic elements when put into context of particular professional written exuberance.

Porosity, an adjective, means the quality or state of being porous, that is, having small holes that allow air or liquid to pass through. This definition was provided by Merriam-Webster. Permeability is the quality or state of being permeable. It allows liquids or gases to pass through. ‘Fracturing’ is to damage or destroy something as if by rupturing it. Regrettably, the various meanings have not been absolutely helpful in getting a good grasp of the article on a study on earthquakes.

Fortunately, Professor Kerry Edward Sieh, an earthquake expert, was kind enough to spare us the trouble checking up a specialist dictionary for a more precious definition of those salient words. In his words, "Porosity is the amount of space for water to flow in while permeability is how easily water can flow. Fracturing is when rocks are broken up with enough spaces in between for water to accumulate". Reading the paragraphs that follow his explanation was a breeze.

There is no single dictionary the writer considers as the best. The Merriam-Webster is a great companion to stretch his vocabulary collection. While looking up a particular word, there is an opportunity to learn a number of related words. The word may have several meanings. It may also contain a number of secondary meanings. There are times when he found a need to contribute with commentaries to expand word definitions offered by Merriam. With this inter-active approach, the writer hopes to drum-up interest in others who might offer their contributions as well.

Check it out at Merriam-Webster's "Seen & Heard" where you will be asked: What made you want to look up a word? Please tell us where you read or heard it.


Contributed Commentaries:


Accidie

AppleTalk explained the meaning of accidie as more than just spiritual sloth. The concept is made clear in all 007 movies with James Bond's most famous line: "shaken, not stirred." It has deeper meaning than its obvious reference to mixing a Martini drink. It seems that accidie occurs when life is deeply shaken but one is no longer stirred to fight for the right and good in life.

The concept epitomizes Ian Fleming’s own drinking habit and poor health.


Adulterate

Allow me to expand on this word ADULTERATE to students and learners of the English Language.

Adulterated orange juice with water and sugar makes the drink impure but not harmful. Similarly, the adding of something of poor quality to weaken the drink would not necessarily cause food poisoning, but the consumption of certain adulterated food could be lethal or seriously damage the digestive system. Adulterated rice is one of them.

This month (Dec 2016), plastic or synthetic rice was found imported into my country which has strict food-safety standards although we still cannot verify the variety and origin of rice imported. The adulterated rice so imported was identified as counterfeit goods infringing a registered trademark.

Just think what health issues there may be for those who unknowingly consume those bags of fake rice adulterated with resins (plastics) and other chemical compounds ?

Amnesia

The insurance industry called the recent tornado phenomenon in Oklahoma (named Moore) by a descriptive term: disaster amnesia. I conclude that it meant an inability by the industry to predict when and how another tornado will strike again and bringing in its wake, a similar disaster. Merriam-Webster did not offer much help. The tornado could not have suffered a memory loss which caused it to continue delivering devastating blows to the human race.



Amortization

Recently, Sweden was “looking into forcing amortization of mortgages” according to Bloomberg. I want to get a correct definition of amortization. Merriam-Webster defined it as ‘monthly instalments that include interest and a gradual reduction of the principal’.

Which means if rates go sky high as in the late 1970s (around 12%), amortization of mortgages will stay dysfunctional for a period. Many Swedish home owners may afford paying monthly interests but not the principal sums on their housing loans, technically in default of loan.


Anomalies

What is meant by 'software anomalies"?

I was told these are software glitches or sometimes called bug; short lived faults that bring about breakdowns in computer systems that control online games and locomotives such as planes and trains.

These occurrences of resultant crashes that can be devastating may not affect our lives in terms of proximity to such dangers. However, driverless cars offering commercial services are now fast becoming a big thing in major cities including Singapore.

The experts are saying that sofware anomalies are rare, and driverless technology is fast improving. Nevertheless, people must not assume that autonomous cars are safer than human-driven ones; and that you can now use your mobile phones while crossing the road.

Let me ask you this: is online banking safe after some 15 years now? My answer: it is safe with proper precautions. Even so, I still prefer the more cumbersome traditional banking method, if possible. Driverless vehicle is a newbie and you cannot afford to let your hair (head) down when crossing the street.


Animal

On September 30, 2016, NEW YORK TIMES wrote: "Not least, Deutsche Bank is a classic example of the species of financial animal known as Too Big To Fail."

The finance world has a language all of its own -- bulls & bears, pigs, ducks, stags, ostriches, sheep, and so on. Well, these words mean much the same as we heard them in classrooms since our primary school days. But Deutsche Bank is figuratively speaking a big financial animal without a proper name to describe its characteristics; and the German government has to go all out to prevent its demise!

The uninitiated will find it hard to understand.


Artificial Intelligence

Extraordinary advances in artificial intelligence (AI) could displace swaths of jobs in transport and delivery. Driverless vehicles and drones are already replacing humans in many developed cities. This is just one illustration of the problem.

Nevertheless, technology gurus are still assuring people there are many jobs requiring the human touch. K-2SO (Kay-Tuesso), the droid in Rogue One-Star Wars, is still far and few in the distant future. Robots are a threat to millions of jobs? Grossly overhyped !

Bangles

The gemologists in ancient China who designed the jade bangles never thought that their creation could one day become The Circle of Life - an inspiration for the Green Movement to let people know through education that the way forward is to honour diversity and interdependence of all life forms.

So far this broad definition of the word exists only in the writer's mind. But the hope is for the Chinese merchants to exploit and turn it into reality for a prosperity world for all - business or no business.



Bankable


If a project is not bankable, financial institutions and private sector investors will not lend or put money into it. They either consider risks as too high or returns on capital too low over a given timeframe for the project. Large-scale infrastructure projects such as ports development and power stations are more difficult to get funding if financiers think potential investees lack relevant expertise. The project location which does not have a flourishing cross-border finance in place makes raising funds more challenging.

Bar code

A company named Iruma in Japan has developed tiny nail stickers to help concerned families find missing elderly loved ones who are prone to getting their way lost. These senior citizens are suffering from memory loss. In medical science, the disease is known as dementia.

These stickers, (or chips with adhesive QR-coded seals) designed for tagging on either fingers or toes, come with scannable bar codes. Each sticker carries a unique identity number for each dementia patient.

These bar-coded stickers can remain attached to fingers or toes for an average two weeks even if they get wet.


Big Bang

Have you seen your government putting tens of millions into the building of roads, bridges, hospitals, seaports and other fixed assets? These are BIG BANG changes that your government hopes will double economic growth of the country in the longer term.

Does it always work to bring in big results? Probably not. Sometimes, all that should be done are slight tweaks to uplift the economy. In other words, construction or upgrading of airports and other infrastructure should be done only where necessary. A big-bang approach is likely to divert resources from other sectors resulting in materials and workers shortage where they are most needed.


Beijing dialect

Beijing dialect is not Mandarin, the official language of the people in China. Mandarin has its origin in Beijing dialect but not completely. This Chinese vernacular has a heavy and distinctive colloquial expressions but now rarely spoken by anyone on the streets of Beijing, China's Capital.

Wish to meet someone who speaks Beijing dialect? Try living in one of the hutongs (alleyways) which I did some years back. Even then, it is rare you can find even an old folk speaking this disappearing dialect in Peking as Beijing was once known as.
Beijing dialect has strong cultural bearings, but its preservation is difficult in a world where people are busy developing skills that can help them make a living. It has inspired performing arts like cross-talk - a comical dialogue and the folk art where story-tellers use their bamboo-clapping to go with their vocal performance in rhythmic sounds. This dialect is testament to China's past as the country was once invaded by the Mongolians and Manchus who ruled the land for a few hundred years. For that reason, the dialect includes many words from these uninvited guests who overstayed their welcome.

Is it worth the trouble preserving a dialect considered representative of the entire nation's civilization? Efforts in preserving this dialect is understandable but the road to achieving success in long and winding.

I speak another dialect called Cantonese, the indigenous dialect in Hong Kong. I love to speak and listen to conversations in this dialect and singing Cantonese songs. It is something innate. It is not for me to say if we should have the Cantonese or the Beijing dialect preserved. Young people now prefer speaking in Mandarin and English as the way forward.


Black Friday

BLACK FRIDAY is no longer a cash-cow event for brick and mortar stores, especially in my country.

This Friday falling on a day after Thanksgiving has now turned into an e-commerce festival with on-line retailers enjoying much lower operating cost. They are selling similar mass-market fashioned brands of lower prices than Black Friday promotions at Orchard Road; I was told by people in the know.

What many a shopper does was to fit and match in dressing rooms of physical stores and turning to on-line retailers for actual purchases. Only a major computer glitch can save the day for mortar retailers.

Orchard Road shopping street will need a major revamp with government initiatives; particularly with some of its older commercial buildings like Orchard Plaza.


Blank Cheque

Why do I need to know more about a ”blank cheque” (or check) with the help of Merriam-Webster? The reason is: I am thinking of writing an article on a company’s Articles of Incorporation or generally called The Charter.

When a company’s charter includes a provision authorizing its board of directors to issue preferred stocks at will, the company is said to be issuing a blank cheque to its Board. With this provision, the Board can act without having to first seek the approval of existing shareholders. For those not in the know —this provision is against the interest of existing shareholders but puts the Board in the driver’s seat.


Buccaneers

Who knew that buccaneers had bookkeepers?

New York Times

NTY reported that a man “M” acted as the accountant for a group of Somali pirates. His bookkeeping was the basis for the proportional division of the millions in ransom between the participating pirates.

But why are Somali pirates called buccaneers? They are not European sea adventurers but outlawed pirates. European buccaneers were an inspiration to businesses, writers and explorers in later centuries. Did I read Merriam-Webster incorrectly?



Bull Market

Whenever "bull market" is on everyone's lips, investors generally think of stock markets.

Actually, the bond bull market has been around for the past twenty years. The reason: worldwide low-interest rates have remained at record lows. When rates (or yields) are low, bond values go up. Bond investors cheer !

Come 2017, it will be the beginning of an end of the bond bull market. Bond prices will fall as yields rise caused by higher interest rates in major economies. They rise in tandem with U.S. short-term rates.


Canary in a coal mine

My country has lots of beautiful tall trees that are providing shades against the hot afternoon sun.

But the changing weather pattern is the cause of many incidents of falling branches and trees toppling that endanger lives. This month (December 2016), a young driver got trapped in his vehicle when a giant tree came crashing down the rear of his van. With all doors stuck he got pulled out through the van's window.

There is no need to panic. The NParks is now on a replanting programme which will have shorter and small species of trees replacing some older ones. They are also doing regular trimming and pruning of trees.

With such freak accidents, it is like a canary in a coal mine - an advanced warning of a danger - we should not take our eyes off when driving or walking on the streets lined with tall trees during the wet months with heavy thunderstorms.


Car-lite

Some Asian cities are pushing towards being car-lite. They are said to be re-inventing the wheels by replacing cars with bicycles and other two-wheelers.

Are they not moving back in time ?



Cash-less or Cashless

The words cash-less and cashless may look similar but different in their meaning.

The world is now gradually moving from one with less cash (cash-less) payments for goods and services to a future society where cash is no longer king. The future belongs to digital payments, but for now, not as yet. Given the poor infrastructure in poorer countries and their rural areas, getting people to switch to digital transactions remains a challenge.


Chinese Wall

The Chinese Wall, an ancient fortress, was built mainly in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). It is better known as The Great Wall of China.

Zhang Xiaodong, director of the Jiayuguan Great Wall Museum, commented that the Chinese Wall reached its definitve form under the Ming dynasty.“From a historic perspective, the wall were mainly used for military defence. But in a broader sense, he said, the Great Wall “represents the Chinese nation’s spirits: the working people’s wisdom, their perseverance to become stronger and the ability to fend off enemies’ intrusion.”


Circuit Breaker

Every household should have a circuit breaker installed. A circuit breaker will cut off electricity if there is a current leakage. Otherwise, electrocution is more than getting an electric shock. It is deadly.

More important is regular testing to make sure it is working properly by pressing the test or "T" button once a month. This should flip down the breaker lever or technically speaking 'trip' it and cutting off the entire household's electricity supply. When this happens, it means the circuit breaking is functioning well. The problem with many Asian households is piggybacking multiple plugs into one socket for cooking pots, kettles, radios & TVs , table lights and other electrical appliances.

When homes are illegally partitioned off with cubicles to accommodate more people, watch it !


Cliff-hanger

I will tell you a short story that ends on a cliff-hanger. The exciting situation remains unresolved. You may feel a little frustrated because you are left to draw your own conclusion. There will be no sequel to this story. Sorry.

In a small Asian city, a mother abandoned three children - nine and two-year-old twins - at a restaurant after attending a banquet there. Neither she nor the children's father could be found or contacted. Their mobile phones switched off. The kids' relatives did not want to take them in, including the aunts who attended the banquet. The kids'uncle refused to meet them. The maternal grandfather said it was not his responsibility. Paternal father pretending to be deaf did not answer knockings and callings of the grandchildren at the door.The local welfare institute said it was against its policy to take in abandoned children when they had traceable direct relatives.

What is the world coming to ?


Codeine

Codeine is a cough suppressant. It is also used as an addictive - an inexpensive substitute for some heroin addicts and people suffering from trauma or other stress disorder symptoms. Recently, many countries are tightening control on the illegal sale of codeine. Therefore illegally importing and selling codeine is punishable under narcotic laws.


Collateral Damage

Collateral damage is the unintended victim of a conflict.

Let us take international trade as the example. Country-A may put up tariffs because it considers free trade with country-B unfair. Certain industries will become collateral damage because of such import/export duties. With Donald Trump as president, he might slap high tariffs on exports. USA exporters from aerospace, autos and iPhones to commodities such as corn and soybeans will become collateral damage. Whilst big brother Boeing takes the biggest hit, European arch rival Airbus group becomes the beneficiary of the trade war.

Similarly, in a family setting, some parents may constantly quarrel over all sorts of things. Unintentionally, their children will become collateral damage. None benefits from the unhappy event except that the lawyer gets paid for legal work if the parents end up in divorce.

PS: For Chinese readers, the term for collateral damage should be: wúyìzhōng shòuhàizhě


Closed-end

With an evolving regulatory regime, legal meanings of a term such as 'closed-end' investment fund as above described by Merriam-Webster may no longer align with market practices governed by a regulatory framework. Investors should tread warily if they think a closed-end fund is one which they know it to be - close-ended.


Cloud

Cloud is now a nebulous term that has nothing to do with meteorology. It describes computing and its applications that run remotely over the Internet. Businesses are now, metaphorically speaking, turning to the cloud to handle their data and computing speedily and at lower costs; with employees accessing business files and data wherever they are, within and outside the office premises. It has nothing to do with the weather; nevertheless, it may imply a network domain that remains opaque even to the people in the computing world.


Consensual

In May 2013 Chile amended its insurance laws. The new law expressly provides that a marine insurance contract is consensual. Its existence and terms can be evidenced by all legal means of proof, provided that a principle of written evidence is contained in a document, whether digital or electronic. The use of the word “consensual” in the context appears contradictory to its dictionary meaning.

Merriam-Webster defines the word “consensual” as existing or made by mutual consent without an act of writing, for instance - a consensual contract.



Constitution

The Articles of Association are a company's constitution. These are internal regulations setting out both the way the shareholders run it and the rights between them. The constitution also deal with matters such as rights attached to each class of share and the method for transferring shareholdings. However, it may not tell you everything about a private company. Confidential information is generally excluded. So, if you want to know about the relationship between shareholders and their company, you can only find it in a shareholders' agreement.


Compassion

A Tibetan Buddhist Leader gives us his definition of EMPATHY and COMPASSION in his book: The Art of Happiness: A Handbook For Living.

" This feeling, which can be labelled empathy or compassion, is an important virtue as it can motivate us to act good and unselfish ways in order to reduce the amount of suffering in the world.....When we adopt a compassionate attitude we not only increase the well-being and happiness of those around us, but also promote our own happiness and well-being. "

He says: " Compassion or empathy can be defined in terms of a state of mind that is non-violent, non-harming and non-agressive. It is a mental attitude based on the wish for others to be free of their suffering and is associated with a sense of commitment, responsibility and respect towards others. If you see an animal intensely suffering, like a fish writhing with a hook in its mouth, you might spontaneously experience a feeling of not being able to bear its pain."


Corruption

A personal observation - in some countries, words such as 'serious discipline violations’ are deemed more appropriate when describing a situation where certain powerful people are held custody by police for corrupt practices. It may be an attempt to avoid the use of vocabulary that appears judgmental then. A person is deemed innocent until he/she is proved guilty; therefore, it is not just a matter of political correctness not to use the word 'corruption’ for the situation.


Cock-fighting

Since the days of the Song Dynasty, cockfighting has been a unique game to pass time in China. A fighting cock prepares for each battle-round by first sharpening its beak on the ground. Hence the Chinese inspirational saying: zài jie zài lì meaning: Go, brush up your battle skills!


Cull

Just thinking aloud - culling of cats? With the proliferation of mobile phone apps, do not be surprised if you find culling of apps more prevailing than controlling a profusion of alley cats in some countries.


Decal

Jingdezhen is probably the city where some of the world's best porcelains are handmade for the local and export markets. I was taught by porcelain tradesman a simple way to differentiate between handmade Jingdezhen porcelain pieces and those mass produced by machines in other parts of China. If a pattern on a porcelain plate or vase is identical on another piece, then it is a custom decal work. One has to take a closer look, nevertheless.


Defenestration

There are increasing cases of defenestration, and high-class residential districts are not spared the bad littering habit. That was never the culture I grew up with and I wonder if it was a result of a country becoming more cosmopolitan. I was curious to know the origin of the word and its actual intended meaning.


DNA

The DNA of a country is the attitudes and mindsets of its people and government. Working conscientiously in tandem, they develop the perfect DNA in the long-term.

Documentary Credit

I searched Merriam-Webster for its definition of the term “Documentary Credit” which I sparingly included in my recent article written for small companies using letters of credit for international trades. Some importers and exporters may prefer to use the term Commercial Letter of Credit which does not alter its meaning as herein provided by Merriam-Webster. Surprisingly, the term “Documentary Credit” is not there in the dictionary.


Dystopia

Satyajit Das - the author of “Extreme Money: The Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk” – is sounding out a warning to policy makers. That their failure to face the ugly truth behind the current global slow economic growth is creating an economic dystopia that may lead to a political crisis.

It is an interesting use of the noun “dystopia” vis-à-vis “Utopia” – a place of ideal perfection – to highlight the heaven-hell difference between them.


Effluent

The following quote came from DAIRYSCARE "100% Pure NZ takes a hid"...Dairy farming has been a significant cause of poor river quality, due to fertilizer and effluent run-off.

Interestingly enough, the other meaning of the word - a river or its tributary – does not make it out to be a polluted water stream. So an effluent river is a stream which gets its water from groundwater.


Emerging

It is about time Merriam-Webster comes out with a new word to replace “emerging” when used for describing nations which have risen from an obscure or inferior position. According to well-known British economist Jim O’Neill, for any person who labels” the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China as emerging markets seem not only a bit inappropriate but quite possibly insulting”.

It is food for thought for Merriam-Webster.


Encore

Maybe you are an artist, a writer, an athlete, singer or a Grand Prix driver. To know that you are capable of another encore suggests you have not reached a finish line. You have not reached your goal of creating another masterpiece. You see it reasonable to seek another encore by refusing to see your own limits.

I was wondering to myself why I kept writing pro-Bono freelance articles all these years. Sometimes, articles don't get published either because the editor does not grasp the message or, more importantly, he does not seriously read to appreciate the effort put in.


Carrie Fisher 1956 - 2016

She was Leia, the iconic character in four Star Wars movies. Fisher's fans all over the world saw themselves in Leia - confident, selfless and risk-taker - in an ever-changing world where people have to keep coming up with solutions to deal with insurmountable difficulties.

Both fans and Walt Disney are in a dilemma over the loss of the role model.


Folding/Foldaway/Fold-up/Foldable

A folding or foldaway canvas stool will have a foldable frame. It sure is.

Some people call a folding stool a foldable stool. I think 'folding' and 'foldable' are interchangeable adjectives to describe the stool. Nevertheless, I have also come across an advertisement for foldaway stool.

Recently an ST news article wrote about an uproar over train passengers who bring with them portable seats: describing them both as portable stools and fold-up stools. With so many ways to describe a stool with a folding mechanism, it is annoying with new learners of the English language in the same way passengers seated on stools on morning peak hour trains are irritating to other metro users.

Perhaps. But then there is this English proverb that says: "All Roads Lead to Rome". Whichever way you say it, it is fine.


Fridge

Fridge is not an abbreviation. Its variant is Frig.

But why Frig ?

Frig is a slang word for Frigidaire. The company making Frigidaire is a subsidiary of Swedish Electrolux home appliances manufacturer. In Asia, consumers probably know and own Electrolux fridges. Many have never heard of Frigidaire.

Take note that refrigerator is spelt without 'd' and the variant 'frig' becomes part of the word.


Genre

"Star Wars was not one genre. People like to sumarise them as science-fiction films or fantasy films, but really, you could say Star Wars is a biblical epic set in space, or a Western. There is a bit of samurai films in there too. Star Wars is all different genres put into a melting pot and stirred. We definitely poured a lot of war into our melting pot, but there are also other things."

Gareth Edwards
Director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


Goodwill

(Accounting) Goodwill is essentially the premium that a buyer pays over the value of a company’s tangible assets, such as factories and equipment. The estimation of premium is subjective. Overpaying for a target means a buyer has to write down the value of its acquisition. Failure to spot the liabilities when deciding how much premium to offer is the reason for overpaying.


Grit

If you have not read Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, I suggest you do right away.

Angela Duckworth (writer) gives her own definition for the word “grit”. It is a blended recipe for personal success. It is a mixture of persistence, passion and potential within a person. Talent? It is just potential in its raw form. What we do with it is something else. Hence, the word gets a wrong definition when talent is overrated - a straight-A pupil as having grit for learning or a sports-star as miraculously skillful.

From a personal perspective, I agree with Angela. Whenever I go on the dance floor, friends and acquaintances opined I have great talents as a ballroom dance. Yet, after years of practicing as a social dancer, I am no more than another ordinary guy on the dance floor. I have no trophies, no recognition of any kind beyond enjoying myself, when many seemingly less endowed individuals have made tremendous achievements and recognition in the art of ballroom dancing. These individuals have grit; talent is just part of the equation.


Iceberg

An iceberg is a hazard to ocean-going ships.

According to scientists on Nasa's IceBridge mission, the really big iceberg is as big as nine Singapores. The city-state has a total land area of about 720 square kilometres comprising mainland and other islands. A helicopter ride is the best way to have an aerial view of Singapore for a big picture of its size. Have this image enlarged nine times with mental extrapolation, if you can.


Ignominy

In Grand Slam tennis, some dreams were made while others were shattered. A top player may just keep marching toward history or ignominy when he starts not to enjoy going on the courts. It is a reality of professional tennis. It is a sport leaving little room for sentiments. Enduring the ignominy that defeat brings is inevitably the feelings of the fallen hero.



Investment

Nobel Prize winner & eminent economist, Robert Shiller, when interviewed by the BBC in October 2013 warned that people buying into today’s potential housing market bubble is speculative investment. ‘Investment’ as such is no longer a ‘process of exchanging income for an asset that is expected to produce earnings at a later time’ as defined by Merriam-Webster.



Irony

According to writer Gary Hayden, there are two great ironies of sleep.

* It eludes us when we need it most. He discovered that every insomniac knows, that the more desperate you are to sleep, the wider awake you are likely to be.
* We rarely want to get into bed at night when it is time to sleep and we rarely want to get out of bed in the morning when it is time to wake.

I suggest you read his new book, Walking With Plato


Irrigation System

Dujiangyan irrigation system constructed in 256 BC is still in use today. Incredible!

The irrigation infrastructure on the Min River (Sichuan) is the longest tributary of the Yangtze in Sichuan, China. Li Bing, a senior official during the Qin Dynasty, headed construction of the system by using a new method of channeling and dividing the water instead of simply following the old way of dam building. In the year 2000, UNESCO declared Dujiangyan irrigation system as a World Heritage Site. Since then, it has attracted thousands of visitors each year to this 2000-year-old engineering feat. Today, it irrigates over 5,300 square kilometers of Chengdu flat land.

The most convenient way of getting to Dujiangyan is by train from Chengdu Railway Station. A high-speed train takes 40 minutes and costs about US$2.


Judicious Use

Recent reports had it that the Indian government ruled out a ban on the use of monocrotophos, a highly toxic pesticide that kills both farm pests and people. One official was quoted as saying: “Can we afford to lose 15 to 25 per cent of output? One cannot afford to lose such a huge percentage of agricultural produce. The answer lies in judicious use”. The expression has a connotative meaning. The implication is: Farmers themselves will decide on what is judicious use. It is a little paradoxical. But we have to accept that words are not limited to one single meaning. Some words have multiple meanings to suit particular situations. I am learning something new every day.


Jadeite

Jadeite (fĕicuì in Chinese) is the most precious version of the green gem commonly called Jade.

The raw stones come from mines in Myanmar ( and Guatemala) but beautifully cut, polished and set into necklaces, rings and bracelets in workshops in China. Prices are surging as wealthy Chinese keep snapping up A-grade jadeite pieces as demand is outpacing supply.

Is it great for medium to long-term investments ?

Broadly speaking, it is not. Even if you own a top-quality A-grade jadeite piece, you cannot simply cash out like the way you trade stocks and bonds. There is no international recognised market or price standard. Buyers and sellers rely on subjective valuations by jewellery experts or use auction bids as the gauge for the top-range jadeites.



Jediism

The Charity Commission for England and Wales recently ruled that Jediism does not count as a religion. The reason is it does not promote moral or ethical improvement. It merely draws on the mythology of Star Wars.

The ruling applies to the franchise's application for nonprofit or charity status.

It is a religion, nevertheless, "to persons or group that holds an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to them" as defined by Merriam-Webster. Jediism centers on a belief in the power of the Force. The Force equates to Chinese concept of "qi" or vital energy and the Chinese philosophy of "yin and Yang" (contrary forces) which may be complementary and interdependent in the natural world.

Do not be surprised if people in China accepts Jediism as a religion or philosophy just like Buddhism.


Late

Learners of the English must never use the word late as an adjective to describe a friend who arrives after the expected time.

It happened. When I asked a Club member why he marked two seats as reserved, he said: I am reserving these seats for my late friends. It is hair-raising to know he meets up with dead friends!

Funny things always happen. For Bill and Hillary Clinton, friends have this nasty habit of turning up dead - 47 of them. Did you read the post at lidblog.com ?



Lemon Laws

Lemon laws vary by state and country and laws may cover other goods than just cars; hence, ‘lemon’ may refer to anything that was defective or broken or which breaks constantly. The law envisions the consumer being in a weaker position. The rights afforded to consumers by lemon laws may exceed the warranties express in the purchase contracts. In Singapore, lemon law takes priority over any opt-out action. Hence, if a buyer has bought a ‘lemon’ he still stand a chance of getting that defective item replaced or repaired, even if he has waived his warranty.


Letter of Intent

Last month (November2016) an established company (listed) presented shareholders favourable possibilites of a contract as certain, or as more probable than is actually the case. The fact is: The company signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) subject to a formal project contract. Moreover, the price mentioned was just indicative.

Under the circumstance, the company would not be able to recognise any revenue in its books. Nevertheless, the company included the full value of the contract in its Order Book and informed shareholders there was a slight delay in the progress of the 'contract' because of current market weakness. In truth, the project contract does not exist.

Misleading statements by directors relating to business projections which are presented to shareholders which are false or misleading may be a crime under the laws; it is not just a case of paying a fine for breaching rules of the Companies Act or listing rules.

Directors and managers beware !



Currency Manipulator

Currency manipulator is a slang for a country influencing its currency for an advantage in trade. It has kept its currency's value low to promote exports.

For countries importing goods, some of them may have doubts whether foreign exchange practices in the exporting country result in unfair trade conditions requiring a need for talks on addressing the exchange rate imbalance.

Dear Merchants: Do not think it is just a slap on the wrist ! If there is no progress on trade talks, applying the screws could mean a real drop in international trade.


Meritocracy

Meritocracy is often defined as - Those who work hard and play by the rules can rise as far as their talents will take them.

To many others, the definition is - Those who work hard and play by some rules and ignore others can rise not so much with what they know but, more important, who they know. Their reasons: People are unfairly punished by following failed policies, and later rule change. It pays not to follow some rules deemed doomed to fail. If these naysayers get them wrong, at least they only have themselves to blame. Talent? Networking is the key. You see well-connected parents enrolling their kids only in elite schools - everywhere.


Misnomer

Giving an eatery the name, Hawker Centre is a misnomer when hawkers work silently and orderly. As the name implies, hawkers peddle goods aggressively and by calling out.


Moat

Legendary American business magnate, Warren Edward Buffett has this for advice to all and sundry: "A truly good business must have an enduring 'MOAT' that protects excellent returns on invested capital. The dynamics of capitalism guarantee that competitors will repeatedly assault any business ‘castle’ that is earning high returns".


Motion

It is interesting to know how Merriam-Webster defines the words “resolution” and “motion” as they relate to the realm of procedure at meetings – organisations large and small.

Resolution: a formal expression of opinion, will, or intent voted by an official body or assembled group

Motion: a proposal for action; especially: a formal proposal made in a deliberative assembly

Allow me to express my understanding of the two words. MOTION and RESOLUTION are not synonyms. A motion becomes a resolution after it has been put to the vote at a meeting. An example sentence is: A meeting is called to consider a motion and passes. It then becomes a resolution.

Enlighten me if you think a little differently.



Money Mule

A money mule is a slang for a person who handles unlawful money.

Was he duped by an online scam? Maybe not.

Ask yourself this question: A stranger putting money into your banking account? And he pays you for putting money with you? A 10-year old would have second thoughts.

The obvious answer is: this stranger steals from someone and leaves the stolen goods with you. The money he puts with you comes from either hacking into another person's banking account or by other unlawful means. It is a crime handling stolen goods.

Why then did the money mule ignore the obvious? The answer: Greed. Such greed comes with a heavy price - jail. This write-up is a wake up call !


Mynah

Describing the Mynah bird as being “often kept as a pet” in Asia stands to be corrected.

The Mynah bird is a major headache in Singapore. They came in the thousands resting on trees to roost. Their cries are so loud that their ferocious roars in the early mornings give little peace to many housing estates. People had hard times getting enough sleep and the authority is still trying to find effective ways to manage their growing population. At certain spots in famous Orchard Road, people take shelter or hold up umbrellas to shield themselves from Mynah droppings.


Neon City

Ngee Ann City is a Singapore iconic shopping centre of busy Orchard Road. Tourists generally have difficulty pronouncing these transliterated words of the Chinese dialect grouping known as Teochew or Chao Zhou in mandarin.

Over time, practically everyone called the shopping centre NEON City which is pretty close to the correct pronunciation and taxi drivers generally got the desired venue correct. It helps with passengers naming Orchard Road as the destination. Yes, you may be entering into a Neon City of underground shopping malls along the Orchard Shopping Belt with subway trains that can bring you to other parts of Singapore.


Nearby

Mr Donald Trump said in his presidential debate that Trump International Hotel is next door to the White House. New York Times correctly said the building is certainly nearby. But it is certainly not next door to the White House, unless you're flying in by a Trump helicopter. Walking itself takes ten minutes according to Google Maps; and if one takes an Uber cab, the trip takes six minutes at best - not counting getting a parking lot in downtown Washington.

Amazing!



Noteholder

Noteholder is a person or investor holding notes payable.

Generally speaking, notes payable and corporate bonds are the same thing. These are debts or monies borrowed by companies to finance operations, growth, or capital projects. Notes are short-term debts. Bonds are long-term borrowings.

A more precise definition for both debt instruments will depend on regulatory rules governing them. In USA, a Treasury note matures between one and ten years. A Treasury bond's duration is more than ten years to maturity.


Oats

Bloomberg recorded Jamie Dimon as “feeling his oats’ after winning his re-election as both chairman and chief executive of JP Morgan. Behaving in a vigorous and bold manner has always been a hallmark of this very successful business leader. It is no surprise.


Omnibus Accounting

(Accounting) Omnibus accounting is a method used for covering up identities of people making trades through omnibus accounts managed by a broker-dealer. These accounts are highly private and confidential. It is not easy to find the true beneficiaries as they could be hiding behind layers of nominees.
Top of the News: Recently, the U.S.Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has frozen the omnibus accounts of certain unknown customers of an overseas broker-dealer on suspicions of insider trading.

Ombudsman

A short add-on to Merriam-Webster – ombudsman is a person who "investigates reports on, and helps settle complaints". If he serves in an organization, the ombudsman provides impartial alternative dispute resolution services -- informal mediation -- to both employees and managers. He acts as an EAR by providing early warning signals of troubling trends and problems within the organization.


Operating System

An operating system helps companies to build products, find customers and grow their businesses. Without it, there will be fewer success stories of innovation in the commercial world.


Parsimony

When economic outlook remains uncertain, top management complains about the parsimony of expense reimbursements. Shareholders will not look kindly to executives flying helicopters or first-class international flights unrestrained.


Parody

Writer Dwight MacDonald had this definition of the word: Parody is making a new wine that tastes like the old but has a slightly lethal effect.


Peeling an onion

Once we start peeling an onion, the problem begins to unravel itself. It comes to the point where trouble actually started, figuratively speaking.


Paradigm Shift

" If I could be said to have one noteworth ability compared with the average person, it's that I have a keen interest in reading the direction and timing of paradigm shifts. I think I'm better than others at sniffing out things that will bear fruit in 10 or 20 years while they're still at the seed stage, and I'm more willing to take the risks that entails. "

Softbank Founder Masayoshi Son


Palliative

A number of English-Chinese dictionaries, including Google.translate, have not given the word “palliative” an accurate translation. The Chinese equivalent is: zhì biāo bú zhì běn


Pen


There is a fast growing trend in the Asia-Pacific region that the fish on our plates are likely to come not from a fisherman's net but a pen by the coast. Catches from the wild are dwindling fast so aquaculture has grown phenomenally in line with the growing wealth of the people and their preference fish instead of red meat as a main source of protein in their diet. I suppose that people in China and Japan with growing wealth want to live longer to enjoy the good things in life. So, pen fish farming in this part of the world is no small fry.


Resolution

It is interesting to know how Merriam-Webster defines the words “resolution” and “motion” as they relate to the realm of procedure at meetings – organisations large and small.

Resolution: a formal expression of opinion, will, or intent voted by an official body or assembled group

Motion: a proposal for action; especially: a formal proposal made in a deliberative assembly

Allow me to express my understanding of the two words. MOTION and RESOLUTION are not synonyms. A motion becomes a resolution after it has been put to the vote at a meeting. An example sentence is: A meeting is called to consider a motion and passes. It then becomes a resolution.

Enlighten me if you think a little differently.


Platitude

An interesting expression from a business associate:

“We cannot eat platitudes; sweet-sounding words are no consolation.


Putsch

Germany is a country known for its consensual approach to business. However, the recent ousting of Siemens CEO seems the result of a tacit agreement between certain board members – a well-organized putsch, according to the press. Perhaps Merriam-Webster should make a distinction between a political putsch and that of a commercial putsch.


Racism

All races can live happily together. It has to start with oneself.

I joined public speaking clubs during my younger days. We have Indians, Malays and Chinese who became good friends. The key is not to talk about religion and politics. There are good and bad people regardless of race. By focusing our attention on the individual's good points, genuine friendship can develop and any personality flaws may go away as minor issues. For instance, you may not know that Malay families are excellent neighbors to have. Your house remains safe even when doors are left unlocked. These neighbors will chase down thieves and robbers; and if your house is on fire, they risk personal safety to put it out.

These stories were reported in our local newspapers. They deserve to be re-told and remembered.


Recreate

Recreate means to remake or refresh. There are other meanings such as reviving or restoring something to life as in digital recreation. By using computer generated imagery, a dead person gets resurrected. He/she lives again, so to speak. Film-makers use digital recreation as an option over other possibilities, like casting another look-alike actor/actress for new movies.

Render

A building surveyor will tell you that a render is an adhesive. It is a mixture of sand, cement and water. Generally called a plaster, it is used for external cladding of walls of buildings. Render provides a skin to protect against infiltration of weather elements, and for aesthetic purposes. A substandard mix? The building gets an ugly look of fissures, cracks and falling slabs - cement and sand that fail to stick to walls.


Reshoring

Reshoring is an offshoring tide reversing itself. Reshoring
brings home factories because of real incentives from the USA
government. These factories will resurrect with a high degree of
automation resulting in few addtional Americans hired.


Resourceful

Recently, I read an article on resourceful tour guides bringing tourists for coercive shopping to earn themselves commissions. It was a reminder of tours I joined where ‘resourceful’ tour guides would only direct us to toilets located near shops, at times, we spent nearly an hour long shopping and munching away on tidbits. Merriam-Webster did not qualify the word as one with a positive personality adjective. Nevertheless, on a positive note, I was also served by tour guides who were truly resourceful and competent.


ROME was not built in a day

“It is impossible to reach fluency in Mandarin without spending 3-4 years on the ground in China. said Alex Berghofen, the managing partner of Helex Asia, a pan-Asian recruitment firm for management consultants.

Students learning Mandarin in European classrooms should not feel disheartened for Rome was not built in a day. The Chinese equivalent is: bīng dòng sān chǐ,fēi yī rì zhī hán


Rule of Law

There is a Chinese idiom to depict the extent of the Rule of Law.

tiān gāo huángdì yuǎn: meaning “Heaven is high and the Emperor is far”. In ancient China, the immense expanse of the country means remote areas were beyond the control of the Emperor.


Run-of-the-mill

Something that is run-of-the-mill may be a common, every day, ordinary happening that does not stand out from all other daily events. One criminal lawyer said that shoplifting is now a typical run-of-the-mill offence. Many of these cases occur in supermarkets, shopping malls, petrol kiosks and 24-hour department stores. It comes as a surprise that red light cameras have been effective in reducing serious run-of-the-mill traffic offences, but shops' security cameras that are made plainly visible do not deter shoplifters!


Sci fi

In Star Wars, there are aliens, and there are space battles. It is also a story of ghosts and mystical powers. Is Star Wars science fiction? Some moviegoers said Star Wars stories are fantasies that exist in the realm of the imagination.

Whether it is a sci-fi or fantasy, or a little of two classifications, it will depend on how closely you follow the movies. You then come up with your definition of - what is science fiction? It is an open-ended question.

Self Insurance

"Self-insurance is a euphemism for "uninsured" or going naked and hence emphasizing the risks of dispensing with insurance coverage. In truth, when parties agree on a contract of insurance, the policy often has features providing significant elements of self-insurance. Some may have policy limits; above this cap, the insured party is without insurance. Other policies may have deductible clauses, below which the insurance company will have no liability. In essence, insurance is an arrangement which the insured is in fact naked over a range of possibilities which he should know of before signing on the dotted line.

In short, do read the fine prints otherwise you may find yourself self insuring for risks you thought covered by the insurance company.



Self-interest

Social partnership has again re-calibrated itself to include elements of self-interest. Some would call the partnership a fairy tale. Others might say such a partnership is not possible: a man in his 50s would go all out to help a stranger - a fair-lady in her 30s absolutely - with no strings attached? They are not having an illicit affair, so the news said.

It happened recently in my country. This 50-year old lives barely an average life.Yet he offered to pay the course fee and have her enrolled in a local polytechnic. He also paid medical expenses for delivery of her child with another man. She had a turbulent past with relationships.

There are unexplained personal reasons why people go all out to help strangers. One reason is the giver's religious beliefs that if he does good, good things will come to him this life or the next. Personally, I see this a commendation form of self-interest vis-vis other hideous ones when it comes to helping others.


Shell Corporation

All told, a shell corporation has all the negative connotation of opacity, unlawful activities, secret dealings, tax evasions and money laundering schemes.

Let us not just judge a book by its cover. Being a shell corporation is not necessarily a bad thing. It is asset-light and easily moved or disposed of. Many big businesses are using shell corporations as special purpose vehicles to do special transactions in foreign countries. In this way, an establishment insulates itself from exposure to riskier business ventures as well as from liability to the various projects.

Good corporation, bad corporation. It is a mixed bag.


Skiing

Snow skiing is one of the most seasonal of sports. Xiling Snow Mountain is the largest snow mountain skiing resort in China. But what do skiers do without snow in the off-season months?

Skiers practice on grass. Invented by the Germans half a century ago, grass skiing became a favourable sport on Baiyun Hills in Guangzhou and now also on the slopes of Xiling Snow Mountain in the warmer months as a summer sport. Don't be surprised to find the place filled with skiers from all over the world !

If you find Xiling a little too far, try Guangzhou. Baiyun Hills is accessible by inter-city subway. You can engage a professional coach for a fee at Extreme Sports on Baiyun Hills.


Spaghetti

One news source wrote that Glencore – one of biggest thermal coal exporters – “throws a tremendous amount of spaghetti at the wall” in its marketing approach. This English catchphrase is new to many Asian readers. They may wonder why Glencore does not throw thermal coal instead since they have this commodity in abundance. Well, coal does not stick. Next, as I found out - throwing a strand of spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks or not – texture is an important factor in cooked pasta.


Stalking

Harassment without invoking a fear of death or bodily harm is, nevertheless, an act of stalking. It is stalking if harassment causes distress to his/her victim. There is no need for the stalker to make his/her presence felt.

In one case, the stalker placed on the bonnet of the victim's parked car bags of rubbish and unwanted items. On some occasions, she had the car's exterior mirrors pushed out of position. An installed camera captured the stalker's nocturnal activities. She repeated her offensive acts over a long period, and the last resort was to have the local court involved.

Swiftlet Farming

Yes, indeed ! Swiftlet farming is an extremely lucrative business in Malaysia. How lucrative? It is worth some US$2 billion per year. With more than 10,000 swiftlet farmers, the country is the world's second largest producer of bird's nests - processed as well as raw and uncleaned ones - exporting mainly to China.


Recent scandals aside, Dato Najib's groundbreaking trade agreements with China in November this year (2016) are truly for his people, in particular those thousands of swiftlet farmers. Instead of bad-mouthing China, his heart warming gestures in wanting to learn from Chinese leaders in various economic sectors are showcasing his great diplomatic skills as the country's Prime Minister.


Sunshades

Some old buildings in my country are now over a hundred years old. The British built these structures and the present government decided to have them gazetted for conservation.

During some months, the tropical sun becomes extremely hot. Other months are wet because of the monsoon rains. Hence builders of these old buildings installed concrete sunshades for protection against the inclement weather. Many modern residential and commercial buildings have fewer sunshades (also called sun breakers) installed. Other buildings have completely done away with them to save construction and maintenance costs. It is expensive to build sunshades because of the need for reinforcement bars (or rebars) on their sides to prevent accidental dislodging. Birds' droppings and litters may land on sunshades, making cleaning difficult unless clearing them with the help of gondolas or scaffoldings.


Tacit Agreement

Germany is a country known for its “consensual approach” to business. However, the recent ousting of Siemens CEO seems the result of a “tacit agreement” between certain board members – a well-organized putsch, according to the press. To my mind, the tacit agreement – perhaps started by two board members and snowballed into an organized putsch – is nevertheless a consensual approach by the Siemens Board of Directors.


Tariff

A tariff is a tax. A rose by any other name is still a rose.

It is a tax on imports (& exports) which whacks the poor and working class because more of their income goes for goods and everyday essentials. These are not the people with money buying tickets for Wimbledon Tennis or Formula One Grand Prix.

A higher tariff? It is a new tax.

Toilet-water

Most Asians may not know that “toilet water” is a common name for eau de toilette (liquid perfume) or huā lù shuǐ in Chinese.

There was a recent newspaper article with this headline: ”Fast food ice dirtier than toilet water”. Without naming the countries concerned in Europe and Asia, the article reported that a test of 10 restaurant chains revealed that six of them would do better to offer the water in their toilets. Bacteria counts of their ice cubes were 13 and 6 times higher than that generally found in toilet water.


Taoism

Qingcheng mountains is more than just a hiker's paradize because of its breathtaking views. Its religious significance has stood up to time.

Rising some 1,300 metres above sea level, Qingcheng has beautiful historic taoist temples which earned it the UNESCO badge of honour. The most famous of them - Fulong and Changdao Temples are located on the front mountain.

The easiest way to get to Qingcheng mountains is by high-speed train from Chengdu Railway Station. It takes less than an hour to reach Dujiangyuan which lies on the cradle of Taoism in Sichuan.


Thriving

The tiny city-state I live in is on the brink of a paradigm shift in economic dynamics. Locals have to dial back on income expectations. Many of them are just surviving as compared to the high net worth migrants who are thriving on the new abnormal. People will continue to have a mixed fortune in the year of the Fire Rooster 2017.


Washer

Almost every household has had problems with a leaking tap onetime or another.

It was not a bad leak - not when you first noticed it. It was just an occasional drip from a bead of water formed into the spout. You know it was easy to fix the leak by changing the WASHER which may cost you probably a dollar or two at most. Somehow, you prefer to ignore the problem but simply turn the tap a little bit harder. Over time, the tap had to be turned increasingly tighter to get the same result. Then one day, it did not work anymore. The washer snapped and you had to pay a 24-hour plumber to immediately stop a gushing tap.

The moral of the story: when you have a small problem, get it fixed without delay to prevent the problem from growing out of hand. For a business person, procrastination can cause you and your family complete financial devastation.


Whale

Bloomberg quoted Jamie Dimon (CEO/Chairman of JP Morgan) as saying: There was no lying about the Whale. People were wrong about the extent of the Bank’s financial problem. “There was no hiding; there was no lying (about the whale). It was just a storm in the tea-pot”


Whereas Clause”

The “Whereas Clause” in a contract - an introductory statement – means ‘considering that’. It serves to explain the purpose of the contract. The Chinese equivalent is: qiān yú tiáo kuǎn. This is the way I understand it to mean – the reason for cross checking with Merriam Webster.


Willy-Nilly

Pan Shiyi, a real estate tycoon, wrote on Sina Weibo, where he has more than 16 million followers: “For many years now, when some Chinese business reporters write stories about us, they don’t read our financial reports or statements but make up their own stories. Still, reporters shouldn’t be detained willy-nilly. Has any good company ever been brought down by a news story?”

When the word ‘Nill’ is placed next to ‘Will’, it probably denotes a haphazard nature of the term. Is that what Merriam-Webster means to say?

So Mr Pan may be saying: Willingly or unwillingly -- whichever way one looks at the matter - it (the detention) should follow proper procedures in all fairness to the reporter.

I am impressed by these words spoken by a forthright man with great leadership qualities; hats off to the gentleman!


Win-Win

The Chinese equivalent for “win-win” is liǎng quán qí měi.

Written for the benefit of students learning Mandarin in Europe’s classrooms


Yin-yang configuration

British Airways had difficulty fitting fully flat beds for business class. It came out with a yin-yang configuration as the most space-efficient method. With half its plane load of passengers seated backward, the configuration sums up what Merriam-Webster explains the term as meaning the “opposite sides”. In Chinese philosophy, Yin and Yang are complementary elements making the whole configuration a more dynamic system than the separate parts.

Hope all British Airways passengers find themselves in Comfort Zone with Mr Peter Cooke’s yin-yang design.


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