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Seismic shift

[ 2009-07-14 13:52]     字号 [] [] []  
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Seismic shiftReader question:

What is “seismic shift”, as in “a seismic shift is taking place in business”?

My comments:

Seismic shift means…. Well, for a change, let’s examine a few more examples first.

This is a quote from black American film maker Spike Lee, who described Barack Obama’s presidency as a “seismic shift” (‘There’s a seismic shift happening’, Guardian, October 16, 2008):

“In the Constitution of the United States of America, it is written that slaves are three-fifths of a human being. That’s why I’m happy to be alive today, because we're living in a time where there’s a seismic shift happening. I never, ever thought that we’d get to a point where a man of African descent can be on the verge of being the president of the US.”

In this Financial Times story from last month (Adverts mark a seismic shift to digital, June 29 2009), advertisers are going digital en mass:

For the past 55 years, The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival has celebrated the best creative work in television produced by agencies around the world.

But this year saw a seismic shift, with the focus at Cannes firmly on digital work. The film “grand prix”, announced on Saturday, went to an interactive online video by Tribal DDB, a digital agency, for a Philips TV set. Barack Obama’s presidential election campaign also won a grand prix award for its ground-breaking use of digital marketing to build grassroots support.

And this, from a Global Language Monitor news letter, just in (Michael Jackson Now No. 2 Internet Story and No. 1 Newsworthy Funeral of 21st Century, July 10, 2009):

“The world has witnessed a seismic shift in the reporting, analysis, and selection of news as evidenced by the recent death of Michael Jackson. In this regard, the Internet is now an equal (if not senior) partner to the global print and electronic media,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.

According to this story, the Internet has outplayed the old print media as a whole in the Michael Jackson saga. Wow.

Well, you see a pattern here, don’t you?

Yes, in all of these examples, we observe a major change in people’s way of doing things from the past.

Now, seismic is the adjective to describe what’s happening pertaining to earthquakes or other underground movements, such as volcanic eruptions and such like.

When we speak of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, we’re talking about earthmoving powers, i.e. huge, enormous, gargantuan forces.

Seismic shift, therefore, points to BIG, major, complete and often unexpected changes.

In other words, a complete turnaround.

Or a sea change.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


Wild card

Taking on a life of its own?

By the book?

Same page?