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[Report] SENEWS-2007-09-02 Report

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Homework

I'm Susan Clark with the Special English program Words and Their Stories.

The Italians have an old saying ***The words mean it is sweet or enjoyable to do nothing. On weekends and during holidays, many of us enjoy doing nothing. But most of the time we have to work. And to keep our jobs we must work hard. Our employer will not like it if we do nothing.

American workers often call their employers bosses. The word “boss” comes from the Dutch word "brass" meaning master. Sometimes company bosses are called the brass. They are also sometimes called “top brass” or “brass hats”.

Experts disagree about how these strange expressions started. But they may have come from Britain. Leaders of the 19th century British army wore pieces of metal called * on their hats. The metal brass has a color similar to that of gold. So a leader or commander came to be called a member of the brass or he may have been called a “brass hat” or even the “top brass”.
By the 1940's the expressions had spread beyond the military leaders, it also included civilian officials. A newspaper in the American's city of F* used the term in 1949. It called the most important police officials “top brass”.

Other expressions that mean boss or employer have nothing to do with brass or hats. One of these is “big cheese”. A cheese is a solid food made from milk. The expression probably started in America in the late 19th century. Some experts believed it comes from a word in the p\ or all do language. Cheese, the meaning is a thing, so the meaning of big cheese may be a big thing. Other experts say the word cheese in this expression was really an incorrect way of saying chief. The word chief means leader, so the expression may mean big leader.

An employer usually does not object to being called boss. But most works would not call their employers “big cheeses”, “top brass” or “brass hats” to their faces. These words are really not insulting, but either do they show great respect.

Employers also have expressions to describe their workers. One of them that describe a good worker is that “he or she works like a Trojan”. The expression probably comes from the ancient writings of the Greek poet Homer. He wrote about the Trojans who lived in the city of Troy. He said Trojans worked very hard to protect their city. Now the expression is often used to describe an employee who works hard for a company. A loyal hard working employee is said to work like a Trojan. So be happy if your company’s brass hats say you work like a Trojan. They may consider you valuable enough to increase your pay.

The Special English program Words and Their Stories was written Gerry Waston. I'm Susan Clerk.
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