2014年02月07日 VOA, Words and Their Stories.

Read and understand the article. If you may have any difficult words to pronounce and words you cannot understand, always ask your teacher.

*Teachers will divide the article into 2-3 paragraphs to help you understand and check the pronunciation of the difficult words.


*Read the words carefully.

  1. critic /ˈkrɪtɪk/ (n.) a person who gives opinions about books, movies, or other forms of art; a person who disapproves of someone or something
  2. naturalist /ˈnætʃərəlɪst/ (n.) a person who studies plants and animals as they live in nature
  3. honorable /ˈɑ:nɚrəbəl/ (adj.) deserving honor and respect; having or showing honesty and good moral character
  4. opposition /ˌɑ:pəˈzɪʃən/ (n.) a person or group that you are trying to defeat or succeed against; a person or group that you are competing with
  5. critical /ˈkrɪtɪkəl/ (adj.) expressing criticism or disapproval; of or relating to the judgments of critics about books, movies, art, etc.


Words and Their Stories: Belittle

* Read the text below

MP3 Download(right-click or option-click and save)

(1) Today’s word is belittle. It was first used by Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States.

(2) Many years ago, a French naturalist, the Count de Buffon, wrote some books about natural history. The books were a great success even though some critics did not like them. Some critics said, “Count Buffon is more of a poet than a scientist.”

(3) Thomas Jefferson did not like what the Count had said about the natural wonders of the New World. It seemed to Jefferson that the Count had gone out of his way to speak of natural wonders in America as if they were unimportant.

(4) This troubled Thomas Jefferson. He too was a naturalist, as well as a farmer, inventor, historian, writer and politician. He had seen the natural wonders of Europe. To him, they were no more important than those of the New World.

(5) In seventeen eighty-eight, Thomas Jefferson wrote about his home state, Virginia. While writing, he thought of its natural beauty and then of the words of Count de Buffon. At that moment, Jefferson created a new word – belittle. He said, “The Count de Buffon believes that nature belittles her productions on this side of the Atlantic.”

(6) Noah Webster, the American word expert, liked this word. He put it in his English language dictionary in eighteen-oh-six. ‘Belittle – to make small, unimportant.’

(7) Americans had already accepted Jefferson’s word and started to use it. In seventeen ninety-seven, the Independent Chronicle newspaper used the word to describe a politician the paper supported. “He is an honorable man,” the paper wrote, “so let the opposition try to belittle him as much as they please.”

(8) In eighteen forty-four, the Republican Sentinel of Virginia wrote this about the opposition party: “The Whigs may attempt to belittle our candidates … that is a favorite game of theirs.”

(9) In eighteen seventy-two, a famous American word expert decided that the time had come to kill this word. He said, “Belittle has no chance of becoming English. And as more critical writers of America, like those of Britain, feel no need of it, the sooner it is forgotten, the better.”

(10) This expert failed to kill the word. Today, belittle is used, not only in the United States and England, but in other countries where the English language is spoken. It seems that efforts to belittle the word did not stop people from using it.


*Let’s talk about the article base on the questions below

  1. When did you start learning English? Why do you like to study this language?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of learning a new language?
  3. Someone once said, ” A little goes a long way.” What did he mean by this?

Tags: , , , , , ,