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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 in the United States Subprime Court. Transcripts and mp3s of our programs are at voaspecialenglish.com.

 

Now, the VOA Special English Program Words and Their Stories

 

Today’s word pan takes us suspect to the day of the gold rush in California. On January 24th 1848, a man named James Wilson Marshall discovered the gold in the territory of California. The news spread quickly. Thousands rushed west, they traveled on foot, by horse back, 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 stream of rivers, thousands of people searched for gold. They had food to eat and blankets to cover to them. They also had muse to ride and pigs and pans to search for gold. Some found areas of mountain rock fix 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 the pieces of gold that the rains were 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. And he shook the pan so that the wash will wash the dirt. Slowly it pulled the water out of the pen. If he was a lucky miner, piece of gold would remain.

 

Across the nation, the news papers 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 river in streams with pans. Each one hoped that the place he planed panned out well --had some gold. For many, gold mine 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 pleased them. A business, a discovery, a simple event, pans out if it is successful. Unhappy sometimes things do not pan out.

 

In recent years, they word pan had taken on other meaning. Today, it also means to criticize. How it got this meaning is hard to discover. But the job of critic is to sometimes paned the worker 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 pan it without mercy. The pans should even wash out the play, but as the actor has put it out, sometimes a critic pan turns out gold.

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