History Lesson: Nationalism, Samurai and Daimyo
- Watch the first video below. Use the subtitles option to read along in English.
- Read the explanation.
- Watch the second video which covers the grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary.
- Take the quiz.
Here is the first video to watch:
John Green starts out talking about nationalism as being “the most important global phenomenon of the 19th century”. The words global phenomenon form a compound noun. This compound noun is a thing, or actually more of an event. A phenomenon is something that is extraordinary or exceptional. When you combine that with global the end result is something extraordinary that is on a worldwide basis.
When he talks about his globes being out of date, he means that they are no longer correct. Due to the rise and fall of nationalism, countries have been formed and other have fallen apart. Out of date is a commonly used idiom referring to things that are no longer relevant, true or need to be switched for something new. A phone or computer that is five or more years old might be out of date.
While talking about nationalism in China the speaker states “and even in China, where nationalism ran up against the dynastic system that had lasted more than 2000 years.”. Dynastic refers to the ruling parties in China that were taken over by the nationalists, who were eventually taken over by the communist nationalists led by Mao Zedong. Ran up against is a commonly used idiom that means to have difficulty with someone, a group or something. Another example of this expression is “We ran up against a better team on Saturday night that beat us seven to three”.
In the above picture are the three fascist leaders of World War Two. Fascism is something new in the 20th Century which is defined as a radical form of nationalism, typically led by a strong, charismatic and persuasive leader. Note in the definition the use of adjectives such as strong, charismatic and persuasive. In particular look at the adjective order and use of commas with more than one adjective.
Another definition given at this time in the video is that of the Nation State. A nation state is any area that has as a legitimate government ran as a sovereign nation. There are currently 196 different nation states in the world.
The narrator discusses “But let’s ignore diasporas for the moment and focus on territorially bound groups with a common heritage.” Diasporas is a noun referring to when people are forced to live outside of their normal homeland which may no longer exist. Territorially is an adjective referring to a certain area. Common heritage is a compound noun referring to the social characteristics and traditions of a group of people. People try to preserve their heritage through language, celebrations and traditions.
An important point is made with the statement “In the US, nationalism pulled a nation together, but often, nationalism was a destabilizing force for multi-ethnic land-based empires.” Pulled together is an idiom that means a person, or group of people or even groups of people unite for a specific reason. “Our family pulled together to help our younger brother”, is another good example. Destabilizing is something that breaks apart another. When you have multi-ethnic groups of people they can be a destabilizing force, especially for newly established nation states that do not share a common heritage.
As the video moves forward it discusses the Japanese samurai. It states “…tend to think of samurai as noble and honorable, but urban samurai, according to Andrew Gordon’s book A Modern History of Japan, were a rough-and-tumble lot.”. Japanese samurai were the upper ranks of society that were also in control of the land and military. Rough-and-tumble is an idiom referring to a group that is rather dangerous, cause trouble and typically fight a lot amongst themselves or others. Lot is used in reference to a group of people. “They were a fine lot”, is the exact opposite of “they were a rough-and-tumble lot”.
While discussing this region around Asia, the John states “First was China’s humiliating defeat in the Opium Wars, after which Western nations forced China to give Europeans special trade privileges. It was a wake up call to see the dominant power in the region so humbled.”. Humiliating is an adjective referring to something that is offensive and makes someone or something look lesser than before. When adjectives end in ing it typically describes a source of feelings. Here are other examples of adjectives ending in ing. When you get a wake up call it can be a good or bad thing. A wake up call, used as an idiom in this case, refers to an event that is typically negative and shows someone or a group of people that there is something wrong with what they are doing. Jack’s heart attack is a wake up call that I should eat better. That is another example when it is used as an idiomatic expression. “I asked the front desk for a wake up call” is more of a literal expression, which is known more as a phrasal verb. You can learn more about phrasal verbs and how to use them.