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[Report] 2008-03-23

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Homework

I'm Susan Clark with Words and Their Stories, a program in Special English on the Voice of America.
Almost every language in the world has the saying that a person can never be too rich. Americans like people in other countries always want more money.

One way they express this is by protesting that their jobs do not pay enough.
A common expression is "I am working for chicken feed." It means working for very little money. The expression probably began because seeds feed to chickens may people think of small change. “Small change” means mental coins of not much value, like nickels, which are worth five cents.

 

An early use of the word "Chicken Feed" appeared in the American publication in 1930. It told about a rich man and his son. Word expert Nickford Mafu says its read: "I’ll bet neither the kid nor his father ever saw a nickel or dime. They would not have been interested in such chicken feed. "

 

"Chicken Feed" also has another interesting meaning known to history experts and World War II spies and soldiers. Spy expert Henry SA Bakate writes that some German spies working in London during the war also work for the British. The British government had to make the Germans believe their spies were working. So British officials gave them mostly false information. It was called "Chicken Feed".

The same person who protests that he is working for "Chicken Feed" may also say "I am working for peanuts." She means she is working for small amount of money. It is a very different meaning from the main one in the dictionary. That meaning is small nuts that grow on the plant. No one knows for sure how a word for something to eat also came to mean something very small. But a peanut is a very small food. The expression is an old one.

Word expert Nickford Mafu says that is as early as 1854 on the American publication used the words Peanut Agitators that meant political troublemakers who did not have a lot of support. Another reason for the saying about working for peanuts maybe link to elephants. Think of how elephants are paid for their work in the circus.

They receive food not money. One of the foods they like best is peanuts. When you add the word gallery to the word peanut, you have the name of the area in American theater. A gallery is a high seating area or balcony above the main floor.

The “peanut gallery” got its name because it is the part of the theater most distant from where the show takes place. So peanut gallery tickets usually cost less than other tickets. People pay a small amount of money for them.
This Special English program Words and Their Stories was written by Jerry Watson. This is Susan Clark.
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