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Textbook example

[ 2010-04-06 11:12]     字号 [] [] []  
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Textbook exampleReader question:

Please explain “textbook example” in the following:

His computer keeps rebooting itself. The CPU fan gets really loud and then it just shuts down and restarts. It looks like a textbook example of spontaneous reboot due to overheating.

My comments:

A textbook example refers to a typical case or situation. As could have been described in a “textbook”, a computer user manual for instance, overheating may make the CPU fan go crazy – it “gets really loud” – and then the computer shuts down and restarts on its own, repeatedly.

In short, a textbook example points to a situation where something happens exactly the way it should happen. In other words, it’s as though you’ve plucked the situation straight out of a textbook.

Also textbook case - a typical situation as (though it were) described in the textbook.

Watch Tiger Woods, for example, to learn how to play the game of golf – His forms and motions are sometimes described as textbook examples of how to hit the golf ball. Or watch Kobe Bryant for textbook examples of how to shoot a 3-pointer or a turn-around fade-away jumper. They made a bad example of themselves off the field, as a matter of fact – each having been found cheating on his wife – but that’s of no particularly grave concern here because we’re merely entitled to dealing with words and sentences. And so let’s stick to the point – on the golf course or on the basketball court, Tiger and Kobe, as pro athletes, are in many ways peerless.

Or if you don’t understand irony, here’s a textbook example of how to put “heavy irony” in a sentence:

“Of course Michael won’t be late: you know how punctual he always is,” she said with heavy irony (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English).

Alright, here are media examples:

1. textbook example:

A textbook example of how chains of volcanic islands like Hawaii form is based on false assumptions, U.S. scientists have argued.

The controversial research by Professor John Tarduno of the University of Rochester in New York and colleagues is to be discussed at a conference in Iceland today, and based on earlier results which appeared in a recent issue of the journal Science.

Scientists can only deduce indirectly how the Earth's interior works. The dominant theory is that the interior churns around in a convection current, with upward plumes of hot magma periodically burning through the Earth’s crust, in areas known as ‘hotspots’. This explains, so the theory goes, how volcanoes - such as those of Hawaii - can form in the middle of tectonic plates like the Pacific.

Magma plumes creating these hotspots have long been assumed to be fixed, while the overlying tectonic plates of crust - which make up the surface of the Earth - drift slowly, over millions of years, above them.

Scientists have relied on these stable hotspots as a point of reference for such things as tracking the movement of continents and ocean basins, and understanding ancient climates.

A classic textbook example of such theory in action is the chain of volcanic islands that form Hawaii. The islands get progressively older as they move away from the current active volcano, and were believed to be formed by the Pacific plate moving over a stationary hotspot.

There have, however, been a number of features of Pacific island chains that have puzzled scientists. One is that there is a ‘dogleg’ turn in the Hawaiian chain of islands, which would require the massive Pacific plate to have shifted at a nearly a right-angle within just a million years or so.

Another anomaly is that when scientists have studied other chains of Pacific islands, they have found that the pattern of island ages in the chain does not fit the theory as neatly.

Tarduno noted that the active volcano of modern day Hawaii is at a latitude of 19° North. If the plume from deep below was stationary, then it would be expected to have always been at this latitude.

However when Tarduno and colleagues used ‘paleomagnetism’ to measure what latitudes extinct volcanoes on other islands erupted, they found that 40 to 60 million years ago, the volcanoes erupted much further north. This suggested that the magma plume was moving - not stationary.

“The only way to account for these findings is if the Pacific plate was almost stationary for a long time, while the magma plume was moving south,” said Dr Rory Cottrell, coauthor of the paper. “At some point about 45 million years ago, it seems the plume stopped moving, and the plate began.”

“Mobile magma plumes forces us to reassess some of our most basic assumptions about the way the mantle operates,” adds Tarduno. “We’re all just swaying around in the mantle wind.”

- Volcano theories may need revision, August 25, 2003, ABC.net.au.

2. textbook case:

You know Japan’s world is upside down when the fabled Toyota Motor Corp is a global laughingstock.

A name once synonymous with quality has fallen so far that Americans are actually rushing out to buy Detroit’s clunkers. You have to love a corporate scandal that boosts General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co and gins up consumer advocate Ralph Nader in one fell swoop.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda has done just that and it’s time for him to resign. He must go not because of the company’s biggest-ever and growing recall, but to take responsibility for how pathetically he is handling the crisis. Thanks to unsteady leadership, Toyota's market value has lost the equivalent of Latvia’s annual gross domestic product since January 21.

Last week’s hastily arranged press conference with Toyoda changed nothing. This is still a textbook case of how not to tackle a public relations (PR) debacle. Toyota’s strategy - denial, downplaying problems, avoiding the media - turned a safety problem into a scandal that MBA students will study for years. It also sheds light on where Japan finds itself in 2010.

- Naked Driving Gives New Meaning to Toyota Crisis, February 8, 2010, BusinessWeek.com.



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.


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(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑陈丹妮)