I’m going to cheat a little bit today on the expression. Remember on Monday I said that sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard to pick an expression to review. Today was one of the hard days, but there is one in there. The expression is, “to weigh something down.” Now, the reason I say it’s cheating is that I used this expression in its literal sense, but the way I want to explain it to you is in the symbolic sense.
So let’s start with the literal sense first. The restaurant Under was constructed on a barge above water. Then they had to sink it, and affix it to the bottom of the sea. In order to get it down there, they placed huge containers of water inside the restaurant to weigh it down. They needed to displace some air, add some weight, and only then could the restaurant fall down to the sea bed, where it needed to be. They needed to weigh it down in order to put it in place.
Have you ever been SCUBA diving? When I was on my trips to the Virgin Islands, I went SCUBA diving. But I was too buoyant; I kept floating toward the surface. I needed to wear a weight belt to weigh me down. Without the weight belt, I would not have been able to go down beneath the surface. I needed the extra weights to weigh me down, so I could sink.
Okay, that’s easy. That’s the literal sense of “weigh down.” To add weight to something so that it sinks. Now, the symbolic meaning. Very often we say “weigh down” when we mean, “to get in your way,” or “to stop you from having success.”
The uncertainty over Brexit is weighing down the British economy. Firms are not investing like they want to. Plants are idled. Companies have to stockpile goods. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. All the uncertainty is weighing down the economy: it’s keeping the economy from succeeding like it otherwise could. This is easy to picture, right? Picture a person trying to walk along with a heavy weight belt around his waist. That’s what this is like for the UK: Brexit is weighing down the economy. It’s causing it to grow more slowly. It’s getting in the way, so to speak.
We talked about marijuana legalization twice on Plain English, first way, way back in episode 18, and more recently in episode 98, when Canada legalized marijuana. Well, the legal marijuana industry is weighed down by heavy regulations. You might think that on day one, these companies selling legal pot would be really, really busy. But there are a lot of regulations weighing them down, a lot of regulations that keep them from selling as much as they might otherwise sell. For example, in Canada, they have to be sold at stores with a special permit, and some towns don’t even allow so-called pot shops at all. Now, understand, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. The regulations are designed to weigh down the industry a little bit. But without the regulations, they would be selling a lot more. That’s why we say the regulations are weighing down the marijuana industry.
What else? I went back in the archives to see if I could come up with another example of “weigh down” from our previous episodes. Ahhh, here’s an example that’s almost the opposite of the previous example. Remember back in episode 123, we talked about drone deliveries? In that case, the lack of rules, the lack of regulations, is weighing down the drone-delivery industry. That’s because nobody wants to invest in drone deliveries without knowing what the rules are eventually going to be. So, for as long as there are no rules yet developed, everyone is too scared to invest in this technology. After all, they might design a great program, but only later discover that it’s against the rules. This is a case where the total lack of regulations and rules actually weighs down a whole industry.
Uh, Boeing. Yeah, some reputational issues are probably going to weigh down the company’s sales in the future. And all the extra expense of having to fix the issue with their 737-MAX is probably going to weigh down the company’s profitability for the next few quarters.
That’s all for today. Remember you can get your free audiobook by signing up for a free trial at Audible. Just visit PlainEnglish.com/book for all the details of the offer. I think I mentioned on Thursday that I just finished a book called “The Happiness Advantage.” I read the printed copy, but it’s also available on Audible. PlainEnglish.com/book .
We will be back on Thursday with another exciting episode of Plain English. Thursday’s episode will be about Japan—the new emperor, the new era. If you’re in Japan, then I’m sure you’ll be excited to hear about this. If you’re not, then you’re probably like me—you don’t really know much about the emperors and the eras in Japan. I’ve been doing some reading about it in preparation for the show, and talking to some listeners, and it’s really interesting. I hope you’ll join JR and I once again this coming Thursday. Until then, thanks for listening and thanks for being part of the best audience in the world.