Friday, 26 February 2010

Usage: Modals Anatomy -- Part 1 (Can & Could)

Does anyone recall the entries I wrote about modal verbs? It was under the title "Usage: Polite or Impolite? Past vs Present -- Part 3". Since then I have wanted to write a bit more about modal verbs, because to me, they can be very easy to begin with, difficult to go deep, and then easy once again when you can remember all.

Modal verb is a type of auxiliary verb(or helping verb) that is used to indicate modality -- meaning possibility and necessity.[1][2]

As I have mentioned in "Usage: Polite or Impolite? Past vs Present -- Part 3", the 9 modals are


Can & Could
Will & Would
Shall & Should
May & Might
Must

We'll look into each pair in each entry. First, let's take a look at the pair Can & Could

Having ability:
  1. I can swim.
  2. I could swim (in the past, now I can't).
Giving permission:
  1. You can go now.
  2. N.A.
Asking for permission:
  1. Can I speak to Jane?
  2. Could I speak to Paul? (more polite, time concerned is still present)
Request for help:
  1. Can you lend me a dollar?
  2. Could you lend me a dollar? (more polite, time concerned is still present)
Giving suggestion:
  1. N.A.
  2. You could clarify with her first before blaming her. (time concerned is still present)
Expressing possibility:
  1. Smoking can cause cancers.
  2. It can't be true! (it is not possible to be true)
  3. You could arrive anytime now. (Slight possibility/ Unsure) (time concerned is still present)
Offering help:
  1. Can I get you a drink?
  2. N.A.
As you can see from the above, Could is the past tense of Can only for the case of ability.


Modals can also be categorised according to their forms.
Basically, you can call them:


  1. Modal Simple 
    • I could talk to her.
  2. Modal Continuous
    • I could be talking to her.
  3. Modal Perfect
    • I could have talked to her.
  4. Modal Perfect Continuous
    • I could have been talking to her.

Among the forms, I am most interested by the Modal Perfect of Could and Can because of their usefulness in expressing different mood.


Could have done (more common)
Can have done (less common)


Showing possibility in past event:
  1. can have visited her. (I had the chance, but I didn't visit her.)
  2. You could have talked to her. (You had the chance, but you didn't, maybe you chose not to) (same as 1)
Showing disbelief in past event:
  1. He couldn't have behaved so badly in school!
  2. She couldn't have betrayed her dearest friend!
Showing criticisms / regrets in past event:

  1. You could have informed me before you threw away my letters!! (But you threw my letters away and now I am very angry!)
  2. I could have saved that kid had I called the ambulance earlier. (Because I didn't call the ambulance earlier, the kid has died and I am angry with myself now, and I regret it too)

The negative sense of Could/Can have + Past Participle is slightly more tricky and you just have to read carefully between the lines, usually it carries the meaning of "the result wouldn't have changed even if somebody did try":

Couldn't have done (more common)
Can't have done (less common)



  1. I couldn't have succeeded without your help. (But I did succeed because you did help me)
  2. He couldn't have phoned you because he left his cellphone at home. (It was just not possible for him to call you)
  3. The dinner couldn't have been better! It was fantastic! (The dinner was not possible to get even better, it was already at its best)



Homework:


Try to explain the meanings of the following sentences in details, you can make your predictions as you wish:
(Leave comments for me to check)


  1. Person A: "We can try to use inductive reasoning to solve this puzzle." Person B: "Could do."
  2. Could you please shut your mouth?
  3. You could have killed yourself crossing that road just now! Now take those earplugs off!
  4. He couldn't have solved those problems by himself.

Enjoy!!!


                      "Who says grammar is boring?" -- Locky




Resources:
http://lockyep.blogspot.com/2009/11/usage-polite-or-impolite-past-vs_13.html
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_verb
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auxiliary_verb
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_modality
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_modal_auxiliary_verb
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-modal

Book reference:
Practical English Usage -- Michael Swan

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Environment: Earth Hour 2010 (add-ons)


I have been very busy lately and most of my better articles are still pending for more researches, so I guess you guys have to be a little patient.

In my last entry, I said I will support the upcoming Earth Hour event and I suggested that it is important to save electricity. By doing so, we can lower the carbon dioxide emission worldwide in that hour.

But hey, there is only one Earth Hour a year, and there are still (365 days x 24 hours - 1 hour) hours of time at which we are using electricity, so it is actually a very small part of contribution to our beautiful planet, but it is the awareness and the education behind this event that count most in your participation.

If you are aware of the latest news reports, you should have heard of the "natural" disasters happened in  other parts of the world. Here I offer you a few news reports:

Portugal rushes aid to Madeira after deadly floods
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8526679.stm?ls

Thousands Flee Indonesia Floods
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8527149.stm

El Niño hits 14 Philippines provinces
http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/244883/el-ni-o-hits-14-provinces

Al Gore said in his movie, An Inconvenience Truth, that "The ice has a story to tell", now "Floods and heat waves also have a story to tell".

All these cases happened in less than a week, and let's not forget the Polar Ice Caps are also melting by the second. There have been numerous disputes over how fast the ice caps are melting and how soon the low sea level countries will be flooded; some say faster, some say slower. To me, it never matters how fast or how soon, it is happening! Why waste time on arguing who has the most accurate calculation? Nobody will know for sure until the day all the ice has melted. And by then, who will still care about whose claim is right and whose claim is wrong? There will be no turning back by then and so we shouldn't give ourselves hope that the Earth will only be critically sick many decades later. Treat the entire situation as serious as we all can and do whatever it takes to cure the planet as urgent as possible.

The Earth is already sick and it will die if we don't try to heal her.

Listen to Michael Jackson's Earth Song MTV again to feel the urge if you must.

Vocabulary:
dispute -- an argument or disagreement, especially an official one between, for example, workers and employers or two countries with a common border


Resources:
http://lockyep.blogspot.com/2010/02/environment-earth-hour-2010.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8526679.stm?ls
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8527149.stm
http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/244883/el-ni-o-hits-14-provinces
http://lockyep.blogspot.com/2009/03/movie-inconvenient-truth.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_global_warming
http://lockyep.blogspot.com/2009/11/movie-song-this-is-it.html

Message: Please Let Me Know

Hey guys!

While you are reading my entries and watching videos which are linked from this blog, if you happen to find any dead links, please let me know, so that I can update them and keep the entries meaningful no matter when you read it.

You can let me know by sending me email or leaving comments.

Thanks a million!

(Thank Timothy for letting me know about the song links I put up. They are fixed now.)

Cheers!
Locky

Monday, 22 February 2010

Environment: Earth Hour 2010





Hey guys, it is another big day in man's history for you and me to contribute to this amazing planet. The Earth Hour 2010 will be held at 8:30pm on the 27th March 2010. I joined it last year and supported the event by going out for dinner instead of staying at home, thus blacking out my home entirely for more than an hour.

Did I cheat? Well, not really, because I really didn't switch on the lights. Is it difficult to participate? Not at all! Just leave home with lights out and go out for a walk or do some shopping and you will be supporting the event! You don't always need to be at home, right?

But I have an even better idea!


You could go to the harbour sides and witness this tremendously wonderful event! Imagine you and your love ones arriving at Tsim Sha Tsui 5 minutes before the start and then watching the lights go out when the time strikes 8:30pm!!! Take a look at how clear the stars will be and then think about how much energy we can save in just that hour !!!

It will be truly peaceful, educational and meaningful to be a part of this!!! So please don't forget this day!!!

Do it for the world, do it for you!








Resources:
http://www.earthhour.org/
http://www.wwf.org.hk/eng/pressreleases/20091217.php
http://lockyep.blogspot.com/2009/04/science-earth-hour.html


Friday, 19 February 2010

Medical: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Image from itechtalk
Recently, I think I have done some very bad things to my own body: I eat at irregular time, I combine two meals into one, I eat a lot at one time just so that I don't have to eat twice, I eat quickly and I eat late at night, sometimes before I sleep late at night.

Now, why am I doing that? Guess I am too busy, or maybe all those listed above have become my bad bad habits. You see, I do enjoy eating slow meals at a nice restaurant, but it always turns out that I am grasping for breath when I finish my bite, which means, I didn't even know I was eating too fast!

As a result, what do I get? I get something call acid reflux, or the proper name, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Basically, it is when the food and juice in the stomach rush back to the oesophagus, and thus the gastric acid "burns" the walls of the oesophaghus and causing inflammation.

My symptoms include heartburn, trouble swallowing (dysphagia) and pain with swallowing (odynophagia).

There could be other symptoms for other people, so you may want to read up on more articles for further details.

There were a few days when I had to take strong medicine to relieve the pain, but eventually, it was the change back to regular lifestyle that helped me recover.

It is so good to be able to eat ~! Have a healthy life!

PS: By the way, I have to watch the amount of coffee I am drinking now. And when I drink, I have to make sure that I eat before I drink, because coffee increases the risk of acid reflux [1].



Resources:

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Food: More Fish@Hong Kong Wet Market

I hope the entry Fish: Groupers@Hong Kong Wet Market helped those of you who are interested in learning grouper names.

I find it funny that my students are interested in knowing fish names all of a sudden, and I found it even funnier because their interest originates from a TV commercial of EPS with Jan Lamb and his look-alike who came from a band called "Rubberband".



Now what is there to do with fish names? If you know this musician, you will know his name in Cantonese.

The fish concerned is a very common fish in Hong Kong waters, found anywhere near pier and rocks and it feeds on meat and algae, and its name -- White-spotted Spinefoot.


Image from blogger

Being top on my dad's favourite fish list, this fish belongs to the category of rabbitfish or spinefoot. The fish can grow as big as 40cm and has a rabbit-like mouth, large dark eyes and a shy temperament. They have poisonous spines to defend themselves against threat. Though the poison is not life-threatening to human, it can cause severe pain.[1] (I have suffered from this in the past) The texture of the meat of this fish is smooth yet firm, and in my dad's and my opinions, it tastes better than many other expensive fish when steamed. In Hong Kong, they can be both farm fish or wild catch.[2]


Second on my dad's favourite fish list is ...

Turbot / Turbo Fish / 多寶魚

Image from guim.co.u

They are highly prized as food fish and they field 4 fillets with the meatier topside portions.[3]


Third on my dad's favourite fish list is ...


Image from blogspot
There are many types of soles and I don't really know which one does my dad like to eat, but he definitely has a taste for flatfishes.


Well, if we don't want to talk about costly fishes here, how about some middle-priced ones?


Image from reef.crc.org.au   
A fish very popular in Thai cuisine, the Barramundi has white, flaky flesh which is particularly smooth when steamed. There are both freshwater and saltwater ones.[4] In Hong Kong, they are often found as farm fish.



Image from redsea.dive.ru




My dad is a real fish lover and he must eat fish every meal. When my dad is home for dinner, he would always ask for this fish. He said it is affordable and the quality is not bad. Well, I don't find many differences between this fish and the Barramundi, except that this one tastes more like freshwater fish.


If my dad doesn't get the Russell's Snapper, he will settle for the Mangrove Red Snapper. Is there any diff?


Image from  wwfsassi.co.za
So much about my dad's choices, I am a natural soup lover! I love all kinds of soup, but if I can choose, fish soup always comes first. Topping my list of favourite fish for soup is the ...


Image from Hand Line Fishing
It has two short spikes on either side of the head that contain venom (poison) which is not fatal but can cause pain and infection. Terribly sweet and milky soup! Wide catch.


Second goes to...

Rockfish / 石狗公

Image from Flickr


Wild catch for sure, lots of bones, tiny and dangerous. One disadvantage, need a lot of them to make a pot of soup. Be careful of the bones when you drink.


In the third place, I have the ...

Small Snakehead / San Pan / 生斑 / (Channa asiatica)
Snakehead / Snake Head Fish / 生魚 / (Channa maculata)


Image from siamfishing
Two types of fish and one big concern -- as National Geographic puts it, "Fishzilla". They produce fast and in huge amount, say 150,000 eggs in 2 years? They are invasive and they cause ecological damage. This fish has already been banned from the USA! Can you imagine that?

Enjoy the fish!
_________________________________________________________________

Vocabulary:
look-alike -- someone or something that is similar in appearance to someone or something else
flaky -- coming off easily in small, flat, thin pieces
Fishzilla -- from the word "Godzilla", a Japanese fictional giant monster. Hereby metaphorically, a monster fish.
fatal -- causes death
invasive -- moving into all areas of something and difficult to stop

_________________________________________________________________

Resources:
http://lockyep.blogspot.com/2009/08/food-groupershong-kong-wet-market.html
http://www1.parknshop.com/WebShop/FishList.do?service=direct&service=1&service=fishListEnu.$DirectLink$4&sp=l12381&sp=SIce-bed+Fish
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flathead_(fish)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF2vOp9_hbc

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Food: Chinese Delicacy

Happy Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day!

Chinese New Year is a time for reunion, food and fun. Reunion, you will have that for sure; food, you can buy that as presents; and fun, you will find it if you keep reading and learning from my blog, so here's your presents!!!!

In the last entry, I have talked about the Chinese puddings / cakes and you have learnt those terms by now, today I would like to share with you some English terms of luxurious Chinese food.


In the top 4 Chinese delicacies, abalone comes first. When dried, they are called Bao Yu as pronounced in Mandarin Chinese.
Abalone
Image from girlsoloinarabia.typepad.com


Coming in second is the sea cucumber. Of the 650 species of sea cucumbers, only 10 have commercial value. [1]
Sea cucumber
Image from yosukemaru.co.jp


In the third position, we have shark fins, which I terribly condemn and would never eat, the only delicacy of the four that contains highly toxic chemical called mercury (Hg). Mercury Poisoning can be deadly and shark finning is very cruel as I have discussed before. So try not to consume any -- for you and for the poor sharks.
Shark Fins
Image from inquisitr
I always hear people telling me, "since someone has killed it, might as well eat it." But I strongly disagree with this point. People kill sharks for their fins because you might-as-well eat them. If you would rather waste it than eat it, as more and more people are not eating it, price will drop and the poor sharks will not be economically beneficial, then no one will kill them!



Coming last is the dried fish maw. It is commonly believed that it helps to improve the skin condition of women and pregnant women.[2]
Fish Maw
Image from kaleidoscope.cultural-china

Conpoy / Dried Scallops

Conpoy
Image from flickr


Made from the saliva of cave swifts by the swifts themselves, the nests have been used in Chinese cooking for over 400 years.[3] However, it is now known that bird's nest can do more harm than good as it can be cancer-causing or carcinogenic . This has been mentioned by renowned Singaporean food critic, Chua Lam, in a TV shows, that bird's nest literally "nurtures the cancer (cells)" instead of the common Chinese saying "nurtures the (facial) appearance".
Bird's Nest
Image from llworldtour.files.wordpress

Known in the English-speaking world in its Japanese name, the mushroom carries the Japanese name of the tree (shii) of which it is cultivated on. During the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368–1644), physician Wu Juei wrote that the mushroom could be used not only as a food but as a medicinal mushroom, taken as a remedy for upper respiratory diseases, poor blood circulation, liver trouble, exhaustion and weakness, and to boost qi, or life energy. It was also believed to prevent premature aging. In today's modern medicine, it is used to manufacture many compounds which can treat various cancers. [4]

Shiitake mushroom
Image from defeatdiabetes.org


Grown in the ground in the Gobi Dessert and Qinghai Plateau in China. The more you eat, the more dessert you get because it helps to hold the soil in the ground. So, don't eat it, guys!

The Chinese University of Hong Kong has also researched on Fat Choy and found that it contains Beta-methylamino L-alanine (BMAA), a toxic amino acid that could affect the normal functions of nerve cells and could lead to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and dementia.[5]

Fat Choy / Black Moss
Image from Google

Resources:



http://lockyep.blogspot.com/2009/05/animals-and-environment-do-sharks.html











Friday, 12 February 2010

Economics: Anatomy of a Euromess

Hi there! I just read an extremely simple yet informative article on the trouble in Europe right now, and I just can't wait to share with all of you!

For those of you who are interested in economics, let's welcome Dr. Paul Krugman! (Please do search "Krugman" in the Sand Play Area for more entries about him)



(As usual, I hope Dr. Krugman won't mind my quoting of his entire blog entry. Permission not gained for quoting.)


___________________________________________________________________

February 9, 2010, 11:52 AM


Anatomy of a Euromess

Most press coverage of the eurozone troubles has focused on Greece, which is understandable: Greece is up against the wall to a greater extent than anyone else. But the Greek economy is also very small; in economic terms the heart of the crisis is in Spain, which is much bigger. And as I’ve tried to point out in a number of posts, Spain’s troubles are not, despite what you may have read, the result of fiscal irresponsibility. Instead, they reflect “asymmetric shocks” within the eurozone, which were always known to be a problem, but have turned out to be an even worse problem than the euroskeptics feared.

So I thought it might be useful to lay out, in a handful of pictures, how Spain got into its current state. (All of the data come from the IMF World Economic Outlook Database). There’s a kind of classic simplicity about the story — it’s almost like a textbook example. Unfortunately, millions of people are suffering the consequences.

The story begins with the Spanish real estate bubble. In Spain, as in many countries including our own, real estate prices soared after 2000. This brought massive inflows of capital; within Europe, Germany moved into huge current account surplus while Spain and other peripheral countries moved into huge deficit:

DESCRIPTIONIMF

These big capital inflows produced a classic transfer problem: they raised demand for Spanish goods and services, leading to substantially higher inflation in Spain than in Germany and other surplus countries. Here’s a comparison of GDP deflators (remember, both countries are on the euro, so the divergence reflects a rise in Spain’s relative prices):

DESCRIPTIONIMF

But then the bubble burst, leaving Spain with much reduced domestic demand — and highly uncompetitive within the euro area thanks to the rise in its prices and labor costs. If Spain had had its own currency, that currency might have appreciated during the real estate boom, then depreciated when the boom was over. Since it didn’t and doesn’t, however, Spain now seems doomed to suffer years of grinding deflation and high unemployment.

Where are budget deficits in all this? Spain’s budget situation looked very good during the boom years. It is running huge deficits now, but that’s a consequence, not a cause, of the crisis: revenue has plunged, and the government has spent some money trying to alleviate unemployment. Here’s the picture:

DESCRIPTIONIMF

So, whose fault is all this? Nobody’s, in one sense. In another sense, Europe’s policy elite bears the responsibility: it pushed hard for the single currency, brushing off warnings that exactly this sort of thing might happen (although, as I said, even euroskeptics never imagined it would be this bad).

Am I calling, then, for breakup of the euro. No: the costs of undoing the thing would be immense and hugely disruptive. I think Europe is now stuck with this creation, and needs to move as quickly as possible toward the kind of fiscal and labor market integration that would make it more workable.

But oh, what a mess.


______________________________________________

Vocabulary:
peripheral -- happening at the edge of something; neighbouring; namely other members of PIIGS -- Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Greece

______________________________________________


Resources:

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Food: Festive Puddings

Now, Chinese New Year is just around the corner, and so you should know the names of the festive puddings in English. Some of you have already learnt them from me in the lessons. It is the others turn now.


The Cantonese style is made from glutinous rice (remember my Thai Mango article?) and brown sugar while the Shanghai style is made from white sugar.

Image from wikimedia
Remember this, the orange colour root is called carrot, the white one is called turnip. Turnip cake is made from plain rice flour and sun-dried shimps. Nowadays, some companies even added conpoy or dried scallops.


Conpoy
Image from flickr
Made from the corm of taro.

My favourite!!! Made from the corm of water chestnut plant. These days, the new versions also come with a very sweet smelly flower called Osmanthus. The type used in tea and puddings is called Osmanthus fragrans or Sweet Osmanthus.
Image from flickr
Osmanthus
Image from 
blogspot
Don't eat too much guys!!!! It is really easy to get bad stomach these days!!

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_cake


Monday, 8 February 2010

Learning Method: Grammar First or Vocabulary First?

I really like to read comments from you guys as I will get to know your thinking and feelings towards learning. Your comments offer me the chance to give you more guidance and suggestions, and at the same time, allow me to understand more, so please let me know your troubles in learning, don't keep them to yourselves.

This entry is a response to Phy's comment on the entry Learning Method & Psychology: Why Can't I Speak Fluent English?

A recap of what she said,
"Agree Locky's suggestions
I do think that grammar is more important than other elements. At least I can express my basic meaning of a sentence even though I use a limited vocabularies. Once you build up confidence, you hope to varify your vocabularies.
Sometimes I have chance in speaking English in daily counter duty. I'll memorize some frequently used keywords and sentences. It may be a helpful method to handle daily requests. After the transaction, I usually think the whole conversation again what should I say/ how to express better next time."


In my opinions, sometimes, you do need to memorise expressions related to your work so that you get immediate improvement in your English, like in Phy's case. This is an area of study in English called ESP, English for Specific Purposes. In the long run, however, it is important to build a firm foundation. For me, grammar and vocabulary are both equally important, and I believe they can both be trained at the same time, which is why I started this blog.

But then again, some learners will put more emphasis in grammar, others might opt for vocabulary, everybody's different. The key here is to understand what type of learner you are -- which one you need to more or which you will be more interested to begin your learning with. Eventually, everyone will arrive at the same point of achievement no matter which route you decide to take.

Say for example, if your work requires you to speak perfect English, almost to a native level because your company is filled with westerners, then I suggest you first spend a little time on finding your errors in your spoken English, then correct them through repeated drillings --the "Hear Yourself" method. Once your grammar is fixed, you can pay more emphasis in vocabulary that is related to your work.

On the other hand, if you are bored to death by grammar, then start with vocabulary first. Get to know more about the world through reading fashion magazines, listening to songs, watching movies, etc., find interests in life and in English first before you go deeper into the grammatical aspects of English.

I believe that there is really no such thing as "the only approach" in learning something, only "the most interesting approach" and "the most relevant approach". My choice is always the former one because if you are keen on something, you will work on it!




Resources:
http://lockyep.blogspot.com/2010/02/learning-method-psychology-why-cant-i.html

http://www.blogger.com/posts.g?blogID=8433985884370686932&searchType=ALL&txtKeywords=&label=World

http://www.blogger.com/posts.g?blogID=8433985884370686932&searchType=ALL&txtKeywords=&label=Reading

http://www.blogger.com/posts.g?blogID=8433985884370686932&searchType=ALL&txtKeywords=&label=Songs

http://www.blogger.com/posts.g?blogID=8433985884370686932&searchType=ALL&txtKeywords=&label=Movies

Friday, 5 February 2010

News: Tycoons set to ride the Golden Tiger

Image: http://www.chinesehoroscope3000.com/horoscope-images/horoscope_2010_tiger-1.jpg

Fengshui masters are all over the news these days. First, I read about the Maoshan master who offered sex in exchange for good fortune (and he got paid for doing that!!!), then I read about the I'm-not-a-feng-shui-master Tony Chan losing the court case.

What I find even more interesting is that a student of mine pointed out that the two cases are actually in line with each other: That is, the two men both offered hope for the other parties that they could change their lives, such as bringing them good fortune or finding long-disappeared love ones, in exchange for something, such as sex or/and cash. And the other parties will do almost anything for even tiny glimpse of hope that might exist!

To tell you the truth, I have never thought of that! And it takes real life experience to be able to see the correlations between the cases! I AM IMPRESSED!!!


Anyway, that's slightly out of the scope of my talking point today. I found an interesting news article while reading the Standard yesterday afternoon:


__________________________________________________________________

Tycoons set to ride the Golden Tiger

DerekYiu and BethYe

Thursday, February 04, 2010

For investors troubled with how the Hang Seng Index stumbled through much of January, a professional report sets the scene for investment choices in the Year of the Golden Tiger - the CLSA Feng Shui Index 2010.

The first sentence of the tongue-in-cheek analysis reads: "Tiger years are typically marked by dramatic changes and even upheaval."

"Tigers are impetuous and unpredictable, so the Hang Seng Index will be more fluctuating this year," said CLSA's Vonnie Chan, senior institutional sales, China and Hong Kong.

Chan said the HSI will start the year well but face a bumpy time in the following three months. It will test lows in May, and June will be a good time to get bargains. August will see another slip before a key upswing in September.

While the Feng Shui Index does not say how the HSI will end the year, managing director of China-Hong Kong strategy Francis Cheung noted the brokerage expects it to reach 26,000.

Chan said "Gold" industries will boom and so will corresponding securities including steel, silver and aluminum. "Wood" industries such as clothing will also fare well. The Feng Shui Index sees gold exceeding US$2,000 an ounce, US$900 (HK$7,020) more than CLSA's actual house view.

2010 is a great year for Dragons, Horses and Goats. Dragons such as Li Ka-shing should focus on the family and career, which will bring them great happiness and success. Horses such as President Hu Jintao have another top year ahead. It will turn out greater if they can rein in impatience and channel that energy. They should trust their instincts - such decisions will prove to be uncannily on the money.

"Uncle Four" Lee Shau-kee, a Rabbit, will pull off more than one stunning stock market coup. And apartments in one of Lee's Henderson Land (0012) projects will beat even the world record HK$71,280 per square foot. Model Chrissie Chau Sau-na also gets a special mention. The Cow girl can "look forward to big breakthroughs in her career and love life by Christmas."

__________________________________________________________________

Vocabulary:
glimpse -- when you see something or someone for a very short time
tongue-in-cheek -- describes something that is meant to be understood as a joke, although it might appear to be serious
upheaval -- (a) great change, especially causing or involving much difficulty, activity or trouble
impetuous -- likely to act on a sudden idea or wish, without considering the results of your actions
bumpy -- not smooth, like a road with many stones and you are driving a car over them.
upswing -- an increase or improvement
boom -- [I] to increase or become successful and produce a lot of money very quickly
uncannily -- strangely or mysteriously; in a way difficult or impossible to explain
pull sth off -- to succeed in doing something difficult or unexpected
coup -- an unexpectedly successful achievement

__________________________________________________________________

Opinions:

What is this CLSA Feng Shui Index thing? I did a bit of research and found that it has been around for a number of years -- the official CLSA website stated that it began in 1992 on the Chinese New Year card for the clients. And last year's sounds rather accurate!!! (How can it not? It will be true no matter what) My question is, how about this year? I have got the original report from the official CLSA website for you to read in details.

The most daring part of this report is the prediction of gold prices, of which is predicted to break US$2000 / ounce! I wonder where the number "2000" comes from...

Believe it or not, it is up to you. Either way, the report has added a bit of fun to the world of economy (and the world of English learning, of course, right?).

Locky's English Playground will still be opened for all English lovers and players during Chinese New Year holidays, so keep following!

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Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Vocabulary: Chinese New Year Flowers and Plants

Wondering what flowers to buy for the Chinese New Year? I guess you have much better idea than I do. But do you know the names of these flowers in English? Remember to remind curious at all time and you will learn more!

Here is a list of names which might be useful to you:


Fresh, aqueous and sweet fragrant flower that symbolises prosperity, wealth and good fortune[1,2]. Often sold in pots with water, or simply bulbs. Apply warm water to the bulb and blossoms will bloom.
Image from made-in-china
Flowers of Chinese plum, ume or Japanese apricot. Each flower has five petals with colours ranging from white to rose to deep red. It symbolises luck.[1]
Image from kimhunter.ca

Peach Flowers
The fruit symbolises longevity[4], but the flower symbolises chances of love and good relationships. The flower looks very much like plum blossom, but the stigmas (tip of the style) are smaller than those of plum blossoms and the petals are overlapping each other in this case.
Image from statesymbolsusa.org
Orchid being a common term, Phalaenopsis or simply Phal is the most welcomed type of orchid in the Hong Kong local markets, and of course, in Thailand. They like moist and hate direct sunshine. Most are epiphyte (grow on another tree but non-parasitic), a few are lithophyte (grow in or on rocks).[5]
Image from chesterkiwanis.org

Symbolises prosperity due to its name in Chinese. Fruits can be preserved in salt or sugar and it is commonly believed to be a remedy of sore throat as it helps to fight infections in the throat and dissolve phlegm.[6]
Image from daleysfruit.com.au
Not only are they the symbol of respect to the ancestors, they also have a wide variety of medicinal properties, including anti-HIV-1, antibacterial and antimycotic (antifungal).[7 ] In Chinese medicine, they are also good for the eyes -- "clear the eyes".
Image from ctahr.hawaii.edu

Vocabulary:
bulb -- a round root of some plants from which the plant grows
bloom -- When a flower blooms, it opens or is open, and when a plant or tree blooms it produces flowers
longevity -- living for a long time
epiphyte -- (of plants) grow on another tree but non-parasitic
lithophyte --(of plants) grow in or on rocks
parasitic -- caused by or connected with a parasite, which is an animal or plant that lives on or in another animal or plant of a different type and feeds from it
phlegm -- a thick substance in your nose and throat that is produced especially when you have a cold
antimycotic -- antifungal


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