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[Report] SENEWS-2007-09-23 Report

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Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories

Today’s word is “belittle”, it was first used by Tomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States. Many years ago, a French naturalist * wrote some books about natural history. The books were a great success even though some critics did not like them. Some critics said * is more of a poet than a scientist.

Tomas Jefferson did not like what the * had said the natural wonders of the new world. It seemed to Jefferson that * had gone out of his way to speak of natural wonders in American as if they were unimportant, this troubled Tomas Jefferson. He too was a naturalist as well as a farmer, inventor, historian, writer and politician. He has seen the natural wonders of Europe, to him there were no more important than those of the new world.

In 1788, Tomas Jefferson wrote about his home state Virginia, while writing, he thought of its natural beauty and then of the words of *. At that moment, Jefferson created a new word belittle. He said the * believes that natural belittles her productions on this side of the Atlantic.

* * , the American word expert, liked this word, he put it in his English language dictionary in 1806. Belittle, to make small, unimportant. Americans had already accepted Jefferson’s word and started to use it. In 1797, the Independent * Newspaper used word to describe a politician the paper supported. “He is an honorable man.” the paper wrote, “so let the opposition try to belittle him as much as they please.” In 1844, the Republican * of Virginia wrote this about the opposition party, “they Whigs may attempted to belittle our candidates , that is a favorite game of theirs”.

In 1872, a famous American word expert decided that the time had come to kill this word. he said, belittle has no chance of becoming English, and as more critical writers of American like those of Briton be a no need of it, the sooner it is forgotten the better. This expert failed to kill the word, today be little is used not only in the United States in England, but in other counties where the English language is spoken, it seems that efforts to beittle the word did not stop people from using it.

You have been listening to the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories, I’m Warren Shier.
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