can both anchor and propel people

Michael30000

Senior Member
Russian
Hello everyone,

From the book Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman.

Mr. Friedman talks about his life in St. Louis Park.

But if you were lucky enough that your life was not constrained by these prejudices, it was hard not to be impacted by all that was also right about Minnesota and St. Louis Park back then. And in my case it was hard not to carry with me for a lifetime a sense of optimism that human agency can fix anything—if people are able and ready to act collectively. And it was hard to leave there and not carry with me for a lifetime an appreciation of how much a healthy community can both anchor and propel people.

Would it be correct to say that "anchor and propel" in this context means more or less the same as "support people (=anchor) and contribute to their development (=propel), i.e. set the stage for people so that they can developand improve their talents etc.?

Thank you.
 
  • reno33

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    can both anchor and propel people.
    Would it be correct to say that "anchor and propel" in this context means more or less the same as "support people (=anchor) and contribute to their development (=propel), i.e. set the stage for people so that they can developand improve their talents etc.?
    I believe there can be several interpretations of the phrase "anchor and propel" in this context and yours is just as valid as any other.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I’m not sure how you’re drawing those conclusions, since that’s not what either of the words means.

    Anchor
    = keep secure in one place (in this context, enable someone to “put down roots”)
    Propel = drive forward (in this context, provide the impetus to do things)
     

    reno33

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I’m not sure how you’re drawing those conclusions, since that’s not what either of the words means.
    Anchor = keep secure in one place (in this context, enable someone to “put down roots”)
    Propel = drive forward (in this context, provide the impetus to do things)


    I'm simply interpreting and defining the author's phrase "anchor and propel" much more broadly and loosely than you have done. I can agree with your definitions, but I also believe the OP's interpretations are equally valid. In addition, in this case, there may easily be further interpretive refinements possible.
     

    Michael30000

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I’m not sure how you’re drawing those conclusions, since that’s not what either of the words means.

    Anchor = keep secure in one place (in this context, enable someone to “put down roots”)
    Propel = drive forward (in this context, provide the impetus to do things)
    Well, I think that because it's about "community" and not about a ship the using of "anchor" could imply some kind of support for people who come to this community - the community is friendly, gives support and that ensures a good friendly atmosphere thus making people stay there.
    As for propel, it seemed to me that in this context it could also suggest some kind of development.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Fair enough. But they both have literal meanings that work well figuratively. That’s how I would read the author’s intention.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Well, I think that because it's about "community" and not about a ship the using of "anchor" could imply some kind of support for people who come to this community - the community is friendly, gives support and that ensures a good friendly atmosphere thus making people stay there.
    I don't agree. "Anchor" does not mean "support", just because both of them are good things.

    I've seen "anchor" used metaphorically many times. It does reflect the ship meaning. Most metaphors have some relationship to their literal meanings, in English. A ship uses an anchor to stay in one spot. The ship is attached to the unmoveable anchor, so wind and ocean currents don't move it some other place.

    Similarly "anchored to a community" means emotionally attached to that community by an unbreakable emotional bond. A similar metaphor is "put down roots". These do not say that the community "supports you" in any way. Maybe nobody lifts a finger to help you. But many modern people think it is emotionally valuable to "have roots" in one place, to be "anchored" in one place.

    In other words, whenever anyone asks "Where are you from?", you know the answer. That is what "anchored" means.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    the author's phrase "anchor and propel"
    I see no single phrase "anchor and propel". I only see two independent verbs that happen to share their object ("people"), and indeed their subject too ("community"). It simply means the community can do those two things. What's interesting in this metaphor is that anchoring is originally a nautical term, and in that context anchoring and propelling would be mutually contradictory, since anchoring prevents you from moving, while propelling, well, moves you.

    The obvious meanings of the two verbs in context are those LB gave in #3.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Isn’t their being contradictory rather the point that‘s being made? A healthy community works at both ends of the spectrum – on the one hand it keeps you grounded and gives you a sense of belonging, but on the other it gives you a firm base from which to move on in your life, a springboard.
     
    Last edited:

    Michael30000

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I’m not sure how you’re drawing those conclusions, since that’s not what either of the words means.
    When I was explaining where the idea of support came from in my understanding of "anchor" I forgot to mention that I had also found this meaning in the Longman dictionary:

    anchor | meaning of anchor in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English | LDOCE

    4 [transitive] to provide a feeling of support, safety, or help for someone or an organization
    Steve anchors the team’s defense.
    Her life was anchored by her religion.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Fair enough. But that’s a rather woolly interpretation of the figurative use of securing a ship in place with an anchor.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Isn’t the their being contradictory rather the point that‘s being made?
    I'm not sure. I reckon in the community it can be both, thereby eliminating the contradiction. The community, and its sense of security and belonging, can encourage you to "move on" in life (onwards and upwards) by, say, helping you build a career or start a family, without necessarily moving away from the area.
     

    Michael30000

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you very much again to everyone.

    I think I can now explain what seems a bit odd to me in this figurative usage of "anchor."
    When we use it in literal sense and say, for example, that a ship anchored or dropped an anchor, the action comes from the ship - the anchor from the ship is dropped thrown into the sea bottom.

    But when we say that the community anchors or can anchor people (as in Mr. Friedman's book), the action comes from the community and it sounds as if the community figuratively throws a figurative anchor. To me it would be more natural to say, for example, I anchored in St. Louis Park to mean that I decided to live there and I like St. Louis Park/I established a strong link with it.
     
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