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Blow his own trumpet? 自吹自擂

中国日报网 2024-05-31 15:40


Reader question:

Please explain this headline: Never one to blow his own trumpet.

My comments:

He, whoever that is, never sings his own praises. That’s what this headline means. It means he’s not a boastful person. He never brags about his own achievements.

Things like that.

That’s what we can safely infer, at any rate, from the idiom, not to blow one’s own trumpet.

The trumpet, of course, is a musical instrument. It’s a wind instrument. When you blow into it, a loud and even ear-splitting sound comes out.

The trumpet being a loud instrument, it is conceivable that some musician would blow his or her own trumpet to draw attention to themselves. Everybody will hear it, no doubt. Also, it being loud, blowing one’s own trumpet to draw attention can become annoying if one does it too often.


Well, it is from this that the figurative meaning of blowing one’s own trumpet derives. By blowing their own trumpet, what they want to do is to brag about their achievement or show how important they are.

It’s that simple.

All right, let’s read a few media examples to drive the point further home:

1. Gasp! Shock! Horror! A leading think tank has revealed that migrants coming to the UK are to blame for almost 90 percent of Britain’s housing problems. We must thank the Bank of England’s chief economist, Mr. Huw Pill, for being clever enough to figure out the obvious.

Merchant bankers like Nigel Farage, ever eager to blow his own trumpet, took to the airwaves to claim that he had warned over 20 years ago that mass immigration was leading to a housing crisis. Well Nigel, the British Movement and other racial Nationalist groups have been warning for much, much longer about the consequences of immigration. Unfortunately people like you have refused to listen.

Huw Pill said higher interest rates were not responsible for record hikes in rental costs, which jumped by 9.2pc in the year to March. Pill argues that the influx of newcomers (745,000 net migrants arriving in 2022 alone), is outstripping the rate at which new properties are being built. The knock-on effect is that the demand for rental properties is at an all-time high, with unscrupulous landlords cashing in with soaring rents.

In the past ten years, more than 3.44 million homes should have been built to cope with demand and 1.19 million alone for net migration. In fact, ‘only’ 2.11 million homes have been built in the same period. The idea of just building more and more houses every year to meet demand is unsustainable, with Britain already being one of the most overcrowded countries in Europe.

- The Elephant In The Room, BritishMovementNorthern.org, May 14, 2024.

2. Social psychologists report a steady increase in narcissism measures among college students from one decade to the next. Why are young people so obsessed with themselves compared to earlier generations?

Considered as a personality disorder that seriously disrupts everyday life, narcissism is rare. Yet, narcissistic tendencies are on the rise as more young people experience high self-esteem and are more concerned with what others think of them.

Narcissists tend to be fragile, so increasing narcissism helps explain why young people suffer from unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and suicidal thinking. Young women are particularly vulnerable here because the internet exaggerates insecurity over their personal appearance.

Why are these trends in effect? Several hypotheses have been put forward. One reason for increasing self-esteem may be grade inflation in schools. Low grades reduce children’s self-esteem so that educators began artificially raising grades to help children feel better about themselves as well as helping parents to believe that their youngsters were excelling in school.

When children receive all “A” grades, they see themselves as “straight-A” students and experience high self-esteem whether the grades are merited or not. When social psychologist Jean Twenge measured increasing scores on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory for college students, she reasoned that they had experienced a great deal of evaluation in the form of grades and suspected that this might have improved their self-esteem.

In addition to having a high, possibly inflated, self-esteem, narcissists are very concerned about how they are perceived by others and go to considerable lengths to blow their own trumpet. Modern technology caters to narcissists with cell phones and social media offering perfect instruments for self-promotion.

Smartphones take better pictures than expensive cameras of the past resulting in many photographers losing their jobs. Many smartphone users record their experiences through the photographic medium of the selfie.

This has two intriguing implications. One is that the self takes center stage. A person photographing the Eiffel Tower looms larger in the frame than this celebrated structure. The other implication is that in the course of recording their travels to exotic places, the individual is, in effect, depicting a glamorous lifestyle that might inspire envy in those whose travel extends only to the local shopping mall.

Social media offers a perfect medium for sharing travel experiences and other envy-inspiring episodes in a person's life. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram allow users to depict a glamorous lifestyle that may, or may not, correspond to their lived experiences. The purpose of this exercise may be to win at a socially competitive game in which the user defeats the competition if they paint a rosier lifestyle than everyone else (often starkly at odds with their internal wretchedness).

“Winners” in this competition make their followers feel less than them and inflict others with the emotion of FOMO (fear of missing out). From this perspective, social media encourages people to inflate their self-image and to expend considerable effort at alerting others to how wonderful their lifestyle is. In other words, social media encourages people to behave like individuals with narcissistic personality disorder.

Heavy cracks often appear in this facade. There are some histories of influencers who succeed in garnering millions of followers for their glamorous lifestyle but secretly languish with depression and suicidal thoughts. Influencers may inspire envy in online followers but that does not mean they are happy people. There is something quite empty, fake, and perilous about a social life that is conducted mainly online.

- Why Narcissism Is Rising, PsychologyToday.com, February 1, 2024.

3. “Dark Brandon” the nickname coined by Joe Biden’s supporters to describe his formidable side was in full effect last week as the US President launched his re-election campaign in a barn-burning State of the Union address before Congress.

Republicans have been painting the 81-year-old President as a doddering octogenarian with pronounced dementia and rapidly decreasing, if any, ability to govern. Huge blunder.

This foolhardy caricature sat uneasily beside its even more grotesque fraternal twin in the right-wing echo chamber: Mr Biden as the mastermind behind a global network of corruption, siphoning millions from as far afield as Ukraine and China into his family coffers.

Although absolutely no evidence supporting these apparent fantasies has been discovered despite intensive investigations by Republican House committees, American conservatives are constantly told that the President is simultaneously a near-vegetable and a modern Alexander the Great of multinational larceny.

Creeping senility was always the more potent and politically valuable charge. It taps into understandable concerns about Mr Biden’s unprecedented age for an American president stoked widespread perceptions, while framing him as a criminal kingpin had little traction beyond committed right-wingers.

Even many Democrats shared doubts about his age and fitness, leading to widespread liberal nail-biting and cold sweats before the address, especially since Mr Biden has been an ill-spoken, self-declared “gaff machine” for his entire half-century in politics.

Both sides, as so often, were badly misled by the same casual assumptions. Mr Biden took to the lectern and gleefully demolished any thought that he is past it.

Mr Biden wasn’t simply reading from a teleprompter. He did that, of course, but he also ad-libbed – considerably more than any previous president ever has in State of the Union addresses – and seemed to lay rhetorical traps for Republican heckling. These he met with largely effective, mocking rejoinders designed to trap Republicans into positions on key issues, such as the budget deficit, taxation and border security, about which they prefer to remain ambiguous.

The President’s folksy, faux-incredulous responses to Republican booing – “Oh, you don’t like that bill, huh? … that conservatives got together and said was a good bill? I’ll be darned” – illustrated that Mr Biden was not merely quick-witted on the evening but also thoroughly enjoying himself.

He concluded by directly addressing his advanced age, saying that the real question is the age of one’s ideas, and thereby painting Mr Trump and the Republicans as wanting to drag the country back into darker times, especially on abortion, contraception and reproductive rights.

He warned the assembled Supreme Court justices, quoting their recent ruling that eliminated the fifty-year-old constitutional right to an early-term abortion, that “you’re about to realise just how much you were right about” the “electoral or political power” of women.

Most Americans didn’t watch this prototype of his campaign stump speech. But the 32.2 million who did were reminded that Mr Biden remains sharp and combative, despite the memory lapses he shares with the 77-year-old Mr Trump, and that he’s an adept and polished politician who especially relishes the give-and-take in Congress.

When confronted by an irate Marjorie Taylor Greene – the Republican rabble-rouser from Georgia who was bedecked head to toe in garish red Trump/Maga paraphernalia – Mr Biden reacted with evident and even indulgent amusement.

His decades of congressional experience help explain how Mr Biden has been so successful, particularly on domestic legislation, in his first term. At last, he didn’t hesitate to blow his own trumpet.

- Biden's fiery State of the Union has given him a decisive edge over Trump, TheNationalNews.com, March 12, 2024.


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.

(作者:张欣  编辑:丹妮)


Armed to the teeth? 武装到牙齿


Truth or dare? 真心话大冒险


The right horse? 合适的人选


Better left unsaid? 不说为妙


Borderline impossible? 几乎不可能

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