I know the meaning of the verb herald utterly and exactly. According to Macmillan this verb has two meanings that are very close to each other, so that some dictionaries have identified these definitions with each other. And this has caused me bewilderment.

1 MAINLY LITERARY to announce something, or to be a sign that something is going to happen soon.

2 to praise something loudly or in a public way.

What does this verb mean here? Does it mean that the Pope has informed the people of this existing rupture for the first time or that he has praised and said that this would-be rupture is a good thing?

While there are a number of plausible labels that might be attached to the 20th century, in terms of social history it was clearly the age of the working class. For the first time, working people who lacked property became a major and sustained political force. This rupture was heralded by Pope Leo XIII—leader of the world’s oldest and largest social organization—in his encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891. GagThe Pope noted that the progress of industry had led to ‘the accumulation of affluence among the few and misery (inopia) among the multitude’; but the period had also been characterized by the ‘greater self-confidence and tighter cohesion’ of the workers. 1 On a global level, trade unions gained a foothold in most big industrial enterprises, and in many other firms too. Working-class parties became major electoral forces—sometimes dominant ones—in Europe and its Australasian offshoots. The October Revolution in Russia provided a model of political organization and social change for China and Vietnam. Nehru’s India set itself the avowed goal of following a ‘socialist pattern of development’, as did the majority of post-colonial states. Many African countries spoke of building ‘working-class parties’ when they could boast no more proletarians than would fill a few classrooms.

The text is from New Left Review, (PDF version), and a copy can be found online on this google groups page.

  • Sorry , I intended to say 'existing'.I'll alter it – kazhvan Aug 4 '17 at 22:03
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    Didn't you ask this already on ELU? I think asking the same thing on both sites is not usually encouraged. – green_ideas Aug 4 '17 at 22:15
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    They said me that this question is suitable for this from . therefore I have asked it again – kazhvan Aug 4 '17 at 22:30
  • First, the verb means utterly and exactly the same whether in reference to past, current or future events. Second, it is clear from the context that the author thinks the pope is happy about this "rupture" (although what "ruptured" isn't clear) and is therefore praising it "loudly or in a public way". We don't need to see an entire paragraph of bloviation to answer this very simple question. – P. E. Dant Aug 5 '17 at 0:03

Oxford dictionary also lists the two related but nevertheless different meanings:

1 Be a sign that (something) is about to happen.

1.1 Acclaim.

To acclaim means to praise. And you're right, definitions 1 and 2 are not identical. And sometimes you can both praise something and announce its coming, so both meanings can be in effect at the same time.

To me the author's intention is unclear. And here's why: Göran Therborn is a highly educated academic and chairs the Department of Sociology at Cambridge University. But none of this means he is a good writer. And part of being a good writer is word choice. In addition, as far as I can tell Mr Therborn is not a native speaker of English, which may or may not contribute to his making some poor word choices in this article.

The other word you asked about in the ELU version of this question, rupture is not the best word to use here. Perhaps his mind was outrunning his pencil, pen, word processor, or whatever he writes with, but it's not clear to what rupture refers to. Readers can only guess and surmise, which is something good authors usually don't want their readers to have to do in a formal essay of this type.

When it comes to Rerum Novarum herald(ing) the "rupture" I can't be sure what Mr Therborn means. If you know anything about Rerum Novarum or its history--or actually read it--you can see that it does a bit of both praising and predicting, as well as a lot of critiquing.

Other word choices in Mr Therborn's piece (and I haven't read the whole thing) that struck me as particular include the following:

Bolivia’s miners played a central role in the Revolution of 1952, and when tin production collapsed in the 1980s, the organizing skills of those obliged to seek work elsewhere provided Evo Morales and his coca growers with a spine of disciplined cadres.

Unless the word spine is used in academic British English in a way I'm unfamiliar with, it doesn't seem like a word a good writer would use here.

The right of wage-workers to organize and bargain collectively was another major gain of the post-war conjuncture.

Not the best word here.

  • So ,I was almost right. I was about to loss my self-confidence. I have to understand this essay , because I have to translate it into German.can you please help me? – kazhvan Aug 5 '17 at 22:53
  • @Pedram in what way could I help you? I don't know German. I probably don't have time. – green_ideas Aug 6 '17 at 1:46
  • I want to write an email to Göran therborn and ask him to express himself delighted. And you can help me in this way .because I am not a native English speaker and can't bring logical reasons against unclear sentences.for example , you can say what you think is a better word . – kazhvan Aug 6 '17 at 9:03

To herald (v): to be a sign that something important, and often good, is starting to happen, or to make something publicly known, especially by celebrating or praising it

In this context the Pope is praising the increased political power of the working class. The MacMillan definition seems accurate and straightforward to me, so I'm not sure why you found it confusing?

  • As I said , I don't know whether this rupture has already happend or it will in future happen .when something is a sign of something or announce it , it means that that thing hasn't happens yet and particularly in this context pope has declared that good news are in the their way or it praise simply this existing rupture – kazhvan Aug 5 '17 at 11:14
  • @Pedram That makes sense. "Herald" will always refer to future events. It's based on the noun "herald", a medieval functionary who announced or introduced someone significant. Like this guy – Andrew Aug 5 '17 at 16:25

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