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

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Next in VOA Special English is Words and Their Stories.

 

Then we tell about Thurgood Marshall the first African-American to serach  on the United State supreme court. Transcripts and mp3s of our progrmas are at voasepcialenglish. com.

 

NOW, the VOA Special English program, WORDS AND THEIR STORIES. Today's word, pan, takes us back to the days of the gold rush in California.

 

 

On January twenty-fourth, eighteen forty-eight, a man named James Wilson Marshall discovered gold in the territory of California. The news spread quickly. Thousands rushed west. They traveled on foot, by horseback and by boat to reach the gold fields. By eighteen forty-nine, the great gold rush was on.
Towns and cities grewovernight. Throughout the territory in the mountainsalong the streams and rivers, thousands of people searched for gold. They had food to eat and blankets to cover them. They also had mules to ride 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 quckly claimed by the first men to find them. Others serached for gold in the rivers coming down the mountains. They were after pieces of gold that the rains had washed down from 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 the mountains looking for gold. Some stories told how others followed the rivers and streams with pans. Each one hoped that the place he claimeb panned out well had some gold.

 


For many, gold mining did not pan out. For a few, it panned 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 have done  pleses 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 it got this meaning is hard to discover. But the job of a critic is to sometimes pan the work of a writer, artist or singer

 

Sometimes critics may pan a movie or 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 up gold. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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