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Ground zero

[ 2009-07-03 13:43]     字号 [] [] []  
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Ground zero

Nancy Matos

Reader question: “Avedon has had a knack for locating himself at ground zero of American culture. Smith takes readers inside the minds and lives of the rescuers at Ground Zero as he shares stories about these heroic individuals and the effect their loss has had on their families and their companies. (From: Report from Ground Zero: The Story of the Rescue Efforts at the World Trade Center).

Could you explain “ground zero”? Why does it usually refer to the site of 9/11?

My comments: Although the term “ground zero” is used in reference to the site of the former World Trade Center in New York City that was destroyed on September 11, 2001, it has been around for decades. The term has also been used to describe the sights of the nuclear bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. In fact, the actual meaning of ground zero pertains to a site or target under attack.

“Dictionary.com” describes it as:

1. The target of a projectile, such as a missile or bomb.

2. The site directly below, directly above, or at the point of detonation of a nuclear weapon.

That would explain why it generally refers to the site of 9/11. However, the term ground zero can also be used in a less formal way, as in describing a starting point or basic level, like in the following sentence: “My teacher didn’t like my ideas for the project, so I had to start at ground zero.”

You probably won’t hear the term used as often as in the example above. Plus, connotations of nuclear war and devastating attacks like 9/11 aren’t images that one likely wants to stir up, which are normally what one thinks of when they hear ground zero. While we’re on the topic, how would you feel about eating at a place called “Ground Zero Café”? The headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, known as The Pentagon, houses a snack bar in its central plaza with that very name.


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About the author:

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.