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He's like a canary in a coal mine...



 
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He's like a canary in a coal mine... #1 (permalink) Sun Dec 12, 2010 22:09 pm   He's like a canary in a coal mine...
 

English Language Tests, Intermediate level

ESL/EFL Test #315 "English Slang Idioms (36)", question 8

"I love that guy. He's like a ......... in a coal mine: he can spot trouble coming in the market from a mile away," the manager said.

(a) shovel
(b) wind
(c) canary
(d) genie

English Language Tests, Intermediate level

ESL/EFL Test #315 "English Slang Idioms (36)", answer 8

"I love that guy. He's like a canary in a coal mine: he can spot trouble coming in the market from a mile away," the manager said.

Correct answer: (c) canary
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The canary means an informer to the others. Doesn't it ? It picks out one person or thing from many.
so: He is like a canary in a coal mine: he can spot trouble coming in the market from mile away,
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He's like a canary in a coal mine... #2 (permalink) Sun Dec 12, 2010 22:58 pm   He's like a canary in a coal mine...
 

Before the introduction of gas detector safety equipment in coal mines, a caged canary would be taken down into the shaft with the miners. If there was any escaping gas, the bird would be affected before the men because canaries are very sensitive to the gases methane and carbon dioxide. As long as the canary kept on singing, the men were safe. If the bird stopped singing, it was having breathing difficulties because of the gas. A swaying/unconscious/dead canary indicated that the shaft should be immediately evacuated.

The phrase living like a canary in a coal mine often refers to serving as a warning to others.
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Learn some cool expressions in the following cool storyEnglish grammar exercises — improve your English knowledge and vocabulary skillsAre you a native speaker of English? Then you should read this!This newsletter tells you all about English! Subscribe to free email English course
question 8. #3 (permalink) Sun Dec 12, 2010 23:26 pm   question 8.
 

Hello B.Z.

It's a very moving story. Believe me that I heard about it but now I can't think of it and I forgot also. I am sorry. This is a true story. Sometimes the dictionaries can be mistaken.
Thanks !!!
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He's like a canary in a coal mine... #4 (permalink) Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:09 am   He's like a canary in a coal mine...
 

Hello B.Z. And what about "whistle-blower"?Is it a synonym to "a canary in a coal mine"? Or does it depends upon a situation? Could I call Mr.Julian Assange "a canary in a coal mine"? Thanks in advance. Maliavkina
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He's like a canary in a coal mine... #5 (permalink) Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:33 am   He's like a canary in a coal mine...
 

Hello Maliavkina,

The two terms are not the same.
A canary in a coal mine provides a warning to others.
A whistle blower is a person who informs on someone engaged in an illicit activity.
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He's like a canary in a coal mine... #6 (permalink) Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:49 am   He's like a canary in a coal mine...
 

Hello,B.Z. Thanks for quick respond. So "a man who kicked the hornet's nest" can't be called "a canary in coal mine". Maliavkina
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He's like a canary in a coal mine... #7 (permalink) Mon Dec 13, 2010 19:53 pm   He's like a canary in a coal mine...
 

They aren't the same things, no.

I also believe you mean 'the man who stirred up the hornet's nest'.
If you 'stir up a hornet's nest' you cause a commotion by creating trouble which is likely to lead to criticism of the matter.
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He's like a canary in a coal mine... #8 (permalink) Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:02 am   He's like a canary in a coal mine...
 

Hello B.Z.Thanks for your comment. "The man who kicked the hornet's nest" is from Quardian. Best regards Maliavkina. P.S.But as for Mr.Assange ,he is certainly not a canary...
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