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ow the VOA Special English program Words and their Stories.


Every people has its own way of saying things. Its own special expressions. These are the living speech of people and story can be told about each of them.

The white swan with its long graceful neck is among the most beautiful of birds. The swan is mostly silent through its life it flows quietly on the water unable to sing sweet songs like most other birds.

In ancient times however people believed that the swan was given a special gift of song at the end of its life. They believed a swan sings a most beautiful song just before it dies. The ancient great Philosopher Socrates talked of this 2,300 years ago. Socrates explained that the swan was singing because it was happy. The bird was happy because it was going to serve the Greek God Apollo. Swans were holy to Apollo the God of poetry and song. The story of the swan's last song found place in the works of other writers including the early English writers Chaucer and Shakespeare.

And the expression swan song has long been a part of the English language. At first swan song meant the last work of a poet, musician or writer. Now it means the final effort of any person. Someone's swan song usually is also considered that person's final work. A political expression was the similar meaning is the last holler. The expression may be used to describe a politician's last campaign. His final attempt to win the cheers and votes of the people. The last holler also can mean the last acts of a politician before his term in office ends.

Writer Edwin O'corner made the expression popular in 1956. He wrote a book about the final years in the political life of a longtime mayor of Boston Massachusetts. He called his book the last holler. Some language experts say the expression came from a name given to noisy supporters of Andrew Jackson America's 7th president. They cheered holler so loudly for Andy Jackson during his presidential campaign that they became known as the holler boys. Jackson's holler boys also played a part in the election to choose the next president. Jackson's choice was his Vice President MWB. a newspaper of the Time reported wm was elected president in his words By the holler boys and those who knew just enough to shot holler for Jackson. So President Jackson really heard his last hollers in the campaign of another candidate the man who were replaced him in the White House.

This VOA Special English program Words and their Stories was written by Mariline Chritiano. * Joyce was its narrator I'm Shirley Geffen.

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