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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 Thomas Jeffeson, the third president of the United States.

Many years ago a French naturalist La'Combo Bufeng wrote some books about natural history. The books were a great success even though some critics did not like them. Some critics said Combo Bufeng is more of a poet than a scientist.

Thomas Jefferson did not like what the context said about the natural wonders of the new world. It seemed to Jefferson that the context's gone out of his way to speak of natural wonders in America as if they were unimportant. This troubled Thomas Jefferson. He too was a naturalist, as well as a farmer, inventor, historian, writer and politician. He had seen the natural wonders of Europe. To him, they were no more important than those of the new world.

In 1788, Thomas Jefferson wrote about his homestate Virginia. While writing, he thought of its natural beauty and then of the words of Com Phone.
At that moment, Jefferson created a new word - belittle. He said the Combo Phone believes that nature belittles his productions at this side of Atlantic. Nova Webster, 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 Cromical Newspaper used the 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 Republic Concentinote Sentinel of Virginia wrote this about the opposition party, The huigs Whigs may attempt 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 there's more critical writers of America like those of Britain feel no need of it. The sooner it is forgotten, the better. This expert failed to kill the word.

Today belittle is used not only in the United States and England, but in other countries where the English language is spoken. It seems that efforts to belittle the word did not stop people from using it.
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