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Thread: To provoke

  1. #1
    Noego is offline Senior Member
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    Default To provoke

    Hello again,

    I have another question.

    I'm currently preparing an activity on an article from the New York times.

    I've included a rather long excerpt from the original article in case the context was required. I've put the part which interest me in green:

    ''For Wanzhou, a Yangtze River port city, the script was incendiary. Onlookers spread word that a senior official had abused a helpless porter. By nightfall, tens of thousands of people had swarmed Wanzhou's central square, where they tipped over government vehicles, pummeled policemen and set fire to city hall.

    Minor street quarrel provokes mass riot. The Communist Party, obsessed with enforcing social stability, has few worse fears. Yet the Wanzhou uprising, which occurred on Oct. 18, is one of nearly a dozen such incidents in the past three months, many touched off by government corruption, police abuse and the inequality of the riches accruing to the powerful and well connected.''



    Now, I'm giving them a meaning of the words in bold.



    I'm hesitating about provoke. I know what provoke means and how to use it, but I'm hesitating between two definitions:



    1. to cause (a person etc) to react in an angry way

    or



    2. to cause



    Now, considering the context, I believe that the first definition is more representative of what ''provoke'' actually means.



    I wouldn't want the students to think that ''provoke'' means simply to ''cause'' as that doesn't really seem representative to me.



    Could I say:

    ''This provoked him to quit his job.'' instead of ''This caused him to leave his job.''



    It's sounds rather odd.



    Am I right?

  2. #2
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Default Re: To provoke

    My instinctive response is that "provoked" in the extract is simple "caused".

    To use it in the other sense: "I lost my temper when I was provoked by the other driver".
    Last edited by Anglika; 09-Oct-2007 at 00:53.

  3. #3
    CHOMAT is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: To provoke

    provoke = to trigger off? to bring about? here

  4. #4
    Noego is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: To provoke

    Thanks for both replies.

    (Merci Chomat ^^)

    I have another question related to the same article. Here's another excerpt:

    ''ANZHOU, China, Dec. 24 - The encounter, at first, seemed purely pedestrian. A man carrying a bag passed a husband and wife on a sidewalk. The man's bag brushed the woman's pants leg, leaving a trace of mud. Words were exchanged. A scuffle ensued.''

    The correct definition of ''pedestrian'' in this context is:

    ''Undistinguished; ordinary'' (from thefreedictionary.com)

    Am I right?

  5. #5
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Default Re: To provoke

    Absolutely right.

  6. #6
    Noego is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: To provoke

    Thank you very much, Anglika.

    I didn't know ''pedestrian'' could be used that way.

    Well you learn something new every day, right?

    Cheers!

  7. #7
    Naamplao is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: To provoke

    Quote Originally Posted by Noego View Post
    Hello again,


    ''For Wanzhou, a Yangtze River port city, the script was incendiary. Onlookers spread word that a senior official had abused a helpless porter. By nightfall, tens of thousands of people had swarmed Wanzhou's central square, where they tipped over government vehicles, pummeled policemen and set fire to city hall.

    Minor street quarrel provokes mass riot. The Communist Party, obsessed with enforcing social stability, has few worse fears. Yet the Wanzhou uprising, which occurred on Oct. 18, is one of nearly a dozen such incidents in the past three months, many touched off by government corruption, police abuse and the inequality of the riches accruing to the powerful and well connected.''



    Now, I'm giving them a meaning of the words in bold.



    I'm hesitating about provoke. I know what provoke means and how to use it, but I'm hesitating between two definitions:
    In this context, provoke means means to incite to anger.

    Her constant nagging provoked him and he smashed his fist on the table.

    However, there are several other meanings associated with provoke.

    It can mean

    to call forth (with respect to emotions)

    The antics of the young child provoked laughter from those around him.
    The news of his sudden death provoked her to tears.

    To provide stimulus

    The petition from the neighbourhood was so convincing that it provoked a change in mind of the councilors.

    To cause (this may be considered the same as provide stimulus I suppose)
    Thefailure to secure the patent on their new product provoked a sudden drop in the company's stock share value.

  8. #8
    Noego is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: To provoke

    Thanks for your help, Naamplao.

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