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'Snap' offensive?

[ 2010-12-03 16:49]     字号 [] [] []  
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'Snap' offensive?

Yam asks:

Please explain this sentence (The long time lag between the weapons’ arrival and the Bosnians’ training would leave them extremely vulnerable to snap Serb offensives – Maybe Next Time, Time magazine, October 10, 1994), especially the word “snap”, as in “snap Serbian offensive”.

My comments:

This is an old story, but...

Okay, the United States is always shipping weapons to this country and that. This time, they promised to ship weapons to the Bosnians. But it would take time for the weapons to arrive. Even after the weapons arrived, the Bosnians would need time to train and get used to using those weapons. And the time in between (that long time lag) is when they could be vulnerable to attacks by the Serbs.

Snap attacks (offensive), that is.

In other words, quick hit and run attacks.

All you need to remember about the word “snap” is that it involves activities that are short, crisp and quick.

Quick and snappy like the sound of the finger snap. Do it yourself. Make a quick brush of the tip of your middle finger with the base of your thumb and hear it, a sharp, short noise – got to move your fingers quick enough to make it work, of course.

Or when you snap a stick in two, the stick breaks in two in an instant.

Or when people talk about a cold snap, they are talking about the weather, of temperatures dropping sharply all of a sudden – usually before climbing back up again soon.

Or when you say something rude to someone and they snap right back, they bark back at you without delay – and you deserve it too.

Or if you’re always making snap decisions, you do not think carefully before making those decisions.

Anyways, and in short, whenever something snaps, it happens real quickly, as Woody Allen, in one of his earlier standup routines, tells of his parents’ reaction to his kidnapping:

Finally, my parents realize that I’m kidnapped and they snap into action immediately: they rent out my room.

Well, what were they supposed to do? The folks lived in New York, you know. If they found it imperative to squeeze a quick buck from their missing son’s room for a day or two, who are we to blame them?

Not in today’s economy at any rate.



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)