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[ 2009-04-09 15:05]     字号 [] [] []  
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Nancy Matos

Reader question: “Mr. Brown has just returned from a whistle-stop tour of France, the United States and South America to drum up support for unified economic action. He says that since the Washington summit in mid-November, much work has been done.”

Could you explain “whistle-stop tour”? How does it come into being?

My comments: The term “whistle-stop tour” came into use after World War II and is used in the world of politics, especially in the United States. As rail travel was the primary method of getting around the country, politicians would travel by train from town to town. One of the first well-known whistle-stop tours was in 1948 when US President Harry S. Truman hit the campaign trail in a special train. Never having to actually leave the train, he would make speeches from the rear platform to the towns’ people at each stop, including railway stations from Iowa all the way to California.

Although Truman stopped in major cities, an actual “whistle-stop” is a small station in a less-populated community where trains stop only when given a signal, as regularly scheduled stops only apply to large towns. That signal would be in the form of a whistle. If there were passengers that needed to get off, the conductor would pull the signal chord to alert the train’s engineer. The engineer would respond to the signal with two toots of the whistle. Sometimes, the conductor would signal a discharging passenger’s request with a flag, creating the term “flag stop”, which means the same thing.

President Hu Jintao recently made a whistle-stop tour of Saudi Arabia and Africa in February. Even though he traveled between the Middle East and Africa by plane and not by rail, obviously, the term still applies.



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.