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[word-lover] 【整理】2008-07-27 Words and Their Stories

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Next in the VOA Special English is Words and Their Stories

Then we tell about Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve on the United State’s Supreme Court.

Transcripts and Mp3s of our programmes are at VOAspecialenglish.com

 

Now the VOA Special English Programme Words and Their Stories

Today’s word Pan takes us back to the days of the gold rush in California.

 

On January 24 1848, a man named James Wilson Marshall discovered gold in the territory of California. The news spread quickly. Thousands rushed west. They travelled on foot, by horseback, and by boat to reach the gold fields. By 1849, the great gold rush was on.

 

Towns and cities grew overnight. Throughout the territory, in the mountains, along the streams and rivers, thousands of people searched for gold. They had food to eat, and blankets to cover them. They also had news to write, and picks and pans to search for gold.

 

Some found areas of mountain rock thick with gold. These men got rich. But such areas were few and quickly claimed by the first man to find them. Others searched for gold in the rivers coming down the mountains. They were after pieces of gold that the rains had rush them down from the above.

 

The only way to find this gold was by panning. First, a gold miner put dirt in a metal pan and added water. Then he shook the pan, so that the water would wash the dirt. Slowly, he poured the water out of the pan. If he was a lucky miner, pieces of gold would remain.

 

Across the nation, newspapers carried stories of the gold being found. One told how thousands of people climbed mountains looking for gold. Some stories told how others followed the rivers and streams with pans. Each one hoped that the place he claimed panned out well had some gold. For many, gold mining did not pan out. For a few, it paned out well. But in time, huge machines were built that could wash many tons of dirt at a time. Panning died out.

 

The word however remained in the language. Today Americans still say it panned out well when something they haves done pleases them. A business, a Discovery, a simple event pans out well if it is successful. Unhappily, sometimes things do not pan out.

 

In recent years, the word pan has taken on another meaning. Today it also means to criticize. How we got this meaning is hard to discover. But the job of critic is to sometimes pan the work of a writer, artist or singer. Sometimes critics may pan a movie or a play so severely that no one will go to see it. There are times, however, when a play became highly successful even though most of the critics panned it without mercy. The pans should have washed out the play, but as actors have pointed out sometimes a critic's pan turns out gold.

[ 本帖最后由 enajss 于 2008-7-29 00:49 编辑 ]
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