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导读 :  Welcome to “Learning English”a daily 30 minutes program from the Voice of America. I am Jonathon Ev dddd...

Welcome to “Learning English”a daily 30 minutes program from the Voice of America. I am Jonathon Evans. And I am Ashley Thompson. This program is aimed at English learners, so we speak a little slower and we use words and phrases especially written for people learning English.

Today on the program you will hear from Pete Musto.and Alice Bryant. Later we will bring you our American history series : The Making of a Nation. But first Alice Bryant will bring us this news report.

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are pressuring state lawmakers in Florida to consider gun control laws. The move comes after 17 students and teachers were killed in last week's shooting.

The students have organized a demonstration for Wednesday in the state capital of Tallahassee to put pressure on the Republican-controlled legislature.

"I really think they are going to hear us out," said Chris Grady, a senior who plans to attend the demonstration. He said he hopes the trip will lead to some "commonsense gun laws like rigorous background checks." Background checks are short investigations of people who seek to buy weapons.

Shortly after the shooting, several legislators visited the school to see the damage. They appeared shaken afterward.

Some Republican Party lawmakers said Monday that they would consider new gun laws. However, there is still strong resistance by many Republicans to any gun control measures.

Senator Bill Galvano is a Republican and the incoming Florida senate president. He said the Florida Senate was considering several measures, including raising the age to buy guns to 21. He also said it was considering a waiting period for gun purchases, creation of gun violence restraining orders, and banning bump stocks. These are devices that permit much quicker repeat firing of a rifle.

Officials said Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old suspect in last week shooting, had shown warning signs of psychological problems that could lead to violence. Last year, he legally purchased the semi-automatic rifle he used in last week's attack.

The Senate also is considering increasing spending for mental health programs in schools and giving police greater powers to detain someone considered a danger to themselves. The Senate will also look at a proposal to deputize a teacher or someone else at school to permit gun possession.

Still, some Republicans questioned whether additional gun restrictions are the answer.

Republican Senator Dennis Baxley said, "I really don't want to see this politicized into a gun debate." He added, "We have a terrible problem with obesity, but we're not banning forks and spoons."

Democrats believe raising the age limit and creating a waiting period to buy rifles is not enough.

Democratic Senator Gary Farmer called such proposals a "joke." He said, "I don't see that as a restriction. It never should have been that an 18-year-old could buy an assault weapon. No Floridians should be able to buy an assault weapon."

U.S. federal law permits those 18 and over to buy rifles. Cruz passed the required investigations to buy the AR-15 he used in the attack as well as at least six other rifles.

Since the attack, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have become increasingly vocal about their demands for gun control measures.

Many are publicly naming the politicians who take financial support from the National Rifle Association. Some criticized President Donald Trump for blaming Democrats. The critics say Trump has taken no action.

Trump announced on Tuesday that he has directed the U.S. attorney general to create rules that would ban bump stocks.

The high school students are also calling for anti-gun violence demonstrations on March 24 in Washington, D.C. and other cities.

The Associated Press reported this story. Hai Do adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

rigorous - adj. very strict and demanding

fork and spoon - n. eating tools used to pick up food

vocal - adj. expressing opinions in a public and forceful way

2.Some Very 'American' Words Come from Chinese

On a recent program, we told you the stories of English words borrowed from other languages. Today, we will tell you about words that English has taken from Chinese.

Many of the Chinese words that are now part of English were borrowed long ago. They are most often from Cantonese or other Chinese languages rather than Mandarin.

Let's start with kowtow.


The English word kowtow is a verb that means to agree too easily to do what someone else wants you to do, or to obey someone with power in a way that seems weak.

It comes from the Cantonese word kau tau, which means "knock your head." It refers to the act of kneeling and lowering one's head as a sign of respect to superiors – such as emperors, elders and leaders. In the case of emperors, the act required the person to touch their head to the ground.

In 1793, Britain's King George III sent Lord George Macartney and other trade ambassadors to China to negotiate a trade agreement. The Chinese asked them to kowtow to the Qianlong Emperor. As the story goes, Lord Macartney refused for his delegation to do more than bend their knees. He said that was all they were required to do for their own king.

It is not surprising, then, that Macartney left China without negotiating the trade agreement.

After that, critics used the word kowtow when anyone was too submissive to China. Today, the usage has no connection to China, nor any specific political connection.


Another borrowed word that came about through contact between two nations is gung-ho.

In English, the word gung-ho is an adjective that means extremely excited about doing something. The Chinese characters "gōng" and "hé" together mean "work together, cooperate."

The original term -- gōngyè hézuòshè -- means Chinese Industrial Cooperatives. The organizations were established in the 1930s by Westerners in China to promote industrial and economic development.

Lt. Colonel Evans Carlson of the United States Marine Corps observed these cooperatives while he was in China. He was impressed, saying "...all the soldiers dedicated themselves to one idea and worked together to put that idea over."

He then began using the term gung-ho in the Marine Corps to try to create the same spirit he had witnessed. In 1942, he used the word as a training slogan for the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion during World War II. The men were often called the "Gung Ho Battalion." From then, the word gung-ho spread as a slogan throughout the Marine Corps. Today, its meaning has no relation to the military.


In English, a typhoon is a very powerful and destructive storm that occurs around the China Sea and in the South Pacific.

The word history of typhoon had a far less direct path to the English language than gung-ho. And not all historical accounts are the same.

But, according to the Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories, the first typhoons reported in the English language were in India and were called "touffons" or "tufans."

The word tufan or al-tufan is Arabic and means violent storm or flood. The English came across this word in India and borrowed it as touffon.

Later, when English ships encountered violent storms in the China Sea, Englishmen learned the Cantonese word tai fung, which means "great wind." The word's similarity to touffon is only by chance.

The modern form of the word – typhoon – was influenced by the Cantonese but respelled to make it appear more Greek.


A kumquat is a fruit that looks like a small orange. It is native to South Asia and the Asia-Pacific.

The word kumquat comes from the Cantonese word kam-kwat or gām-gwāt, meaning "golden orange." Gām means "golden" and gwāt means "citrus fruit" or "orange." The word also refers to the plant that carries this fruit.

In 1846, a collector for the London Horticultural Society introduced kumquats to Europe. Not long after, the fruit found its way to North America.


Another food-related word from Chinese is chow. The English word chow is slang for "food." American English speakers also use the phrasal verb "chow down," which can mean to eat something quickly and without good manners.

It comes from the Cantonese verb ch'ao, which means "to stir-fry" or "to cook."

The American English usage of the word chow as "food" dates back to 1856 in California. Chinese laborers built the railroads in that state. Back then, the word mainly referred to Chinese food. Today it refers to all kinds of food.


Most Americans would have a hard time believing that ketchup was not created right here in the U-S-A.

Ketchup is America's most popular condiment. But, as VOA Learning English reported last year, the story of ketchup began more than 500 years ago in Southeast Asia.

The word ketchup most likely comes from the word ke-tsiap, from a Chinese dialect called Amoy. The word originally referred to a type of sauce made from mixing pickled fish with spices.

And, historians say, the sauce was probably first created in a Chinese community in northern Vietnam. Later, this sauce would reach Indonesia and be called kecap.

The word first met the English language in the late 17th century, when a British colony in Indonesia came into contact with this sauce.

Back in England, the English first used the word to refer to many types of sauces.

Later, English settlers brought ketchup with them to the American colonies, but the condiment did not contain tomatoes until the mid-19th century.

Join us again soon to learn the history of English words borrowed from other languages.

I'm Pete Musto. And I'm Alice Bryant.

Alice Bryant wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Words in This Story

kneel – v. to be in a position in which both of your knees are on the floor

superior – n. a person of higher rank or status than another

submissive – adj. willing to obey someone else

original – adj. happening or existing first or at the beginning

promote – v. to help something happen, develop or increase

dedicate – v. to use time, money, energy or attention for something)

slogan – n. a word or phrase that is easy to remember and is used by a group or business to attract attention

horticultural – adj. related to the science of growing fruits, vegetables and flowers

pickled – adj. preserved with salt water or vinegar

condiment – n. something (such as salt, mustard, or ketchup) that is added to food to give it more flavor

sauce – n. a thick liquid that is eaten with or on food to add flavor to it

3.Story of John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry

Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

One day in October of eighteen fifty-nine, Americans were shocked by news of an attack led by John Brown. He was an antislavery extremist. Many people also considered him a madman.

John Brown had declared that he was ready to die fighting slavery. He said that God wanted him to fight slavery by invading Virginia with a military force. And even if the rebellion failed, he predicted that it would lead to a civil war between the North and the South. Should there be a war, he said, the North would break the chains of black slaves.

Brown decided to strike at Harpers Ferry, a small town about one hundred kilometers from Washington. It was part of Virginia at that time, but is now located in the state of West Virginia. It had a factory that made guns for the army and a supply center of valuable military equipment. Brown wanted the guns and equipment for the slave army he hoped to organize.

Harpers Ferry was built on a narrow finger of land where the Shenandoah River flowed into the Potomac. There was a bridge across each river. Brown organized his attack from across the Potomac, in Maryland.

This week in our series, Harry Monroe and Jack Moyles continue the story of John Brown and his raid on Harpers Ferry.

With his force of less than twenty men, John Brown moved through the darkness down to the bridge that crossed the Potomac River.

Two men left the group to cut the telegraph lines east and west of Harpers Ferry.

At the bridge, Brown's men surprised a railroad guard. They told him he was their prisoner. The guard thought they were joking until he saw their guns.

Once across the bridge, Brown and his men moved quickly. They captured a few people in the street and another guard at the front gate of the government armory. They seized the armory, then crossed the street and seized the supply center. Millions of dollars' worth of military equipment was kept there.

After leaving a few men to guard the prisoners, Brown and the others went to the gun factory across town. They seized the few people who were there and captured the factory.

Without firing a shot, Brown now controlled the three places he wanted in Harpers Ferry. His problem now was to hold what he had captured. Brown knew he had little time. The people of the town would soon learn what had happened. They would call for help. And several groups of militia in the area would come to the aid of Harpers Ferry.

Brown planned to use the people he had captured as hostages. The militia would not attack if there was danger of harming the prisoners. He wanted as many prisoners as possible, to protect himself. If his plan failed, he could offer them in exchange for his own freedom and that of his men.

Brown had decided to capture, as his best hostage, Colonel Lewis Washington. The Colonel was a descendant of President George Washington. He lived on a big farm near Harpers Ferry. Brown sent some of his men to capture the old colonel and free his slaves.

They returned from the Washington farm after midnight. They brought Colonel Washington and ten slaves. They also captured another farmer and his son. The slaves were given spears and told to guard the prisoners.

Then, at the far end of the Potomac River bridge, the first shots were fired.

Brown's son, Watson, and another man fired at a railroad guard who refused to halt. A bullet struck his head, but did not hurt him seriously. The guard raced back across the bridge to the railroad station. He cried out that a group of armed men had seized the bridge.

A few minutes later, a train from the west arrived at Harpers Ferry. The wounded guard warned the trainmen of the danger at the bridge. Two of the trainmen decided to investigate. They walked toward the bridge. Before they could reach it, bullets began whizzing past them. They ran back to the train and moved it farther from the bridge.

Then a free Negro man who worked at the railroad station, Hayward Shepherd, walked down to the bridge. Brown's men ordered him to halt. Shepherd tried to run and was shot. He got back to the station, but died several hours later.

Brown finally agreed to let the train pass over the bridge and continue on to Baltimore. The train left at sunrise.

By this time, word of Brown's attack had spread to Charles Town, more than twelve kilometers away. Officials called out the militia, ordering the men of Charles Town to get ready to go to the aid of Harpers Ferry.

Soon after sunrise, men began arriving at Harpers Ferry from other towns in the area. They took positions above the armory and started shooting at it.

The militia from Charles Town arrived at the Maryland end of the Potomac bridge. They charged across, forcing Brown's men on the bridge to flee to the armory. Only one of Brown's men was hit. He was killed instantly.

Brown saw that he was surrounded. His only hope was to try to negotiate a ceasefire and offer to release his thirty hostages, if the militia would let him and his men go free. Brown sent out one of his men and one of the prisoners with a white flag. The excited crowd refused to recognize the white flag. They seized Brown's man and carried him away.

Brown moved his men and the most important of his hostages into a small brick building at the armory. Then he sent out two more of his men with a prisoner to try to negotiate a ceasefire. One of them was his son, Watson.

This time, the crowd opened fire. Watson and the other raider were wounded. Their prisoner escaped to safety. Watson was able to crawl back to the armory.

One of the youngest of Brown's men, William Leeman, tried to escape. He ran from the armory and jumped into the Potomac, planning to swim across the river. He did not get far. A group of militia saw him and began shooting. Leeman was forced to hide behind a rock in the middle of the river. Two men went out to the rock with guns and shot him. His body lay in the river for two days.

Later, more people were killed. One was the mayor of Harpers Ferry, Fontaine Beckham.

After the mayor's death, a mob went to the hotel where one of Brown's men had been held since he was seized earlier in the day.

They pulled him from the hotel and took him to the bridge over the river. Several members of the mob put guns to his head and fired. They pushed his body off the bridge and into the water.

Across town, three of Brown's men were in trouble at the gun factory. The factory was built on an island in the Shenandoah River. The island was now surrounded by militia. Forty of the soldiers attacked the factory from three sides. They pushed the three raiders back to a small building next to the river. The three men fought as long as possible. Then they jumped through a window into the river.

They tried to swim to safety. Men with guns were waiting for them. Bullets fell around the three like rain. One man was hit. He died instantly. Another was wounded. He was pulled to land and left to die. The third man escaped death. He was captured and held for trial.

All through the afternoon and evening, Brown's men at the armory continued to exchange shots with the militia. Several more on both sides were killed or wounded. One of those was another of Brown's sons, Oliver. He was shot and seriously wounded.

Night fell. Then, a militia officer, Captain Sinn, walked up to the small building held by Brown. He shouted to the men inside that he wished to talk. Brown opened the door and let him in. For almost an hour, the two men talked. They talked about slavery and the right to rebel against the government.

Brown was furious that the crowd outside had refused to honor his white flag of truce earlier in the day. He told Sinn that his men could have killed unarmed men and women, but did not do so.

"That is not quite correct," Captain Sinn said. "Mayor Beckham had no gun when he was shot."

"Men who take up guns against the government," said Sinn, "must expect to be shot down like dogs."

In Washington, President Buchanan and Secretary of War John Floyd did not learn of the rebellion at Harpers Ferry until after ten o'clock that morning. The president wanted immediate action.

And that's our program for today. Listen again tomorrow to learn English through stories from all around the world. I'm Jonathan Evans and I'm Ashley Thompson.




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