Another city, another tale
Hi Jin Lu,
Thanks for your lovely posting and for sharing all those beautiful pictures of Nanjing with us. I suppose almost every city, town or village has a story behind it but it's always so nice to learn of a new place and its legend.
There are lots of tales about Glasgow, my home city, but one of the best known is reflected in our coat of arms which shows a bird, a tree, a bell and a fish. All of these things have a connection with the patron saint of Glasgow (St. Mungo), a holy man who arrived in Glasgow about the year 540.
My favourite part has always been about the fish. The story goes like this: Queen Langeoreth was in love with a knight and gave him her golden ring as a token of her love.
One evening, unbeknownst to the knight, the king took the ring off the knight's finger and threw it in the river.
The next day the king demanded that the queen show him the golden ring he had given her. She said she couldn't find it. He gave here three days to come up with it, or else.
The queen hurried to the knight, told him about her dilemma and asked for her ring back. He said he was sorry, he didn't have the ring anymore; he'd lost it and didn't know where it was. The queen didn't know what to do. She was completely distraught.
So the knight decided to ask Saint Mungo for help. The saint told the knight to go to the river and catch a salmon.
The knight did as he was told – caught a fish - and gave it to the queen.
When the queen presented the salmon to her husband, the king was amazed to find the fish holding the golden ring in its mouth.
To this day, you can see Saint Mungo, the bird, the tree, the bell and the fish (with a ring) all over Glasgow. Our coat of arms is on buildings, lampposts, posters and signs. Here's a photo my brother Michael took this morning in Glasgow of our coat of arms on the side of a rubbish bin:
The coat of arms (and the city's motto: Let Glasgow Flourish) was featured in a song in the late 80s, called Mother Glasgow. This video has a few city shots, as well as a sight anyone from Glasgow instantly recognises – the massive cranes that are a part of the Glasgow skyline. Glasgow, used to be a famous ship-building city. And though the ship-building has gone, the cranes remain.
It's almost time for me to say goodbye to you Lin Ju. But before I do, let's have a look at your posting. As ever, your writing is fluid and very evocative. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels I've actually visited Nanjing, just from reading your great descriptions of it.
Turning to the language aspects of your posting, I'd like to concentrate on your word choices, collocations and word order.
1. A few word choices first. Let's look at this one:
declared himself as the new emperor
You can use declare or another expression with as (set himself up as, for example) but you can't use declare and as together.
So you could say:
set himself up as the new emperor
was declared the new emperor
Next let's look at this sentence:
…he suddenly halted at one fatal issue
First, crucial question is probably a better word choice than fatal issue. Second, halt is usually used to mean cause to stop moving or doing something or happening. People don't usually halt themselves – something or someone makes them stop. For example:
Production has halted at the factory because the staff have gone on strike.
Police halted the demonstrators and told them they could go no further.
So stop might be a better - simpler, but better - word to use here. You might even want to go for a couple of punchy sentences, like this:
… he stopped. There was one crucial question: where should the new capital be?
otherwise you get into an unnecessary passive:
… he was stopped by one crucial question …
2. Next, let's look at word order. We'll focus on the word all here:
Unfortunately, Nanjing all failed them.
The word all after Nanjing makes it seem like there are a lot of Nanjings. But actually I think you mean there were a lot of people affected by Nanjing. Can you see where you should move the all to to create the sentence you want?
3. Finally, let's look at a fixed expression in this sentence:
He would just walk and walk and write poems after poems.
This expression, something after something, which means to do the same thing many times, is always a singular (rather than a plural) expression. So can you see how to fix your sentence?
That's all from me just now. It's been lovely blogging with you and I wish you all the best for your studies in Germany!
legend – very old story that may or may not be true that people tell about a famous person or event
reflected – shown or expressed
coat of arms - special shield or shield-shaped pattern which is the sign of a city (you can also have a family, school or university coat of arms)
patron saint – Christian saint or holy person who lived or is associated with a city
knight – a noble soldier (in the past)
a token – an object that you give to someone to express your feelings
unbeknownst to the knight – (unbeknownst is an old fashioned word, often used in fairy tales or legends) – the knight didn't know about it
come up with – show or produce
or else – (used as a threat) to say that something bad or painful will happen but not say exactly what it will be
dilemma – situation when you have to make a difficult choice between two different things you could do
completely distraught – very upset
all over – everywhere
motto - short, memorable sentence or phrase that expresses a belief or purpose
flourish – grow, develop and prosper or do well
shots – pictures, photos or here, still photos from a film
cranes - tall metal structure used to lift and move heavy objects
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