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VOA詞彙掌故(翻譯+字幕+講解):什麼是“值得炫耀的事”?

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Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.

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Our world is home to thousands of different kinds of birds. No two bird species are the same. Each one has its own unique qualities – like its feathers!

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Feathers keep a bird warm and dry. Feathers also help it to fly. And they can be very colorful, making a woodpecker with its bright red feathers stand out in the woods on a cold, wintry day.

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And people have been wearing bird feathers on hats for hundreds of years. But feathers were not just worn for decoration – to improve a person’s appearance. Hundreds of years ago it often meant something else. A feather could represent a person’s standing, success or even, in some cases, a kill.

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Feathers have made their way into many common English expression. Today we talk about one: “To have a feather in your cap.”

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'Cause I don't wanna go on with you like that

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Don't wanna be a feather in your cap

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A feather in your cap is something you are really happy about. The feather gives you bragging rights – a chance to tell the world about your success.

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A feather in your cap also gives you an upper hand, meaning it puts you in a better position. For example, on social media, having a million followers on Twitter can be considered a feather in your cap. Getting a pay raise or winning an award can both be feathers in your cap.

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So it is something you can be proud of and something you can use in the future to get ahead.

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The Etymology Online website notes that the act of placing a feather in a hat or on your head has meant success in many cultures, “apparently independently.”

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As an example, the site uses the early English travel writer Richard Hansard and his 1599 Description of Hungary:

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"It hath (has) been an antient (ancient) custom among them Hungarians that none should wear a fether (feather) but he who had killed a Turk …”

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And some Native American tribes would give feathers to someone for a brave act.

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The saying "a feather in your cap" is widely used in conversation and even in some songs. Many American children sing these words without even knowing what they mean.

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Let’s listen to part of a well-known song called Yankee Doodle.

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This song dates back to the days of the American War of Independence. Some people say British soldiers sang it as a way of making fun of the opposing forces.

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“Doodle” was an 18th century British term for a stupid person. And “macaroni” meant a well-dressed person, someone who likes the finer things in life. So, saying “stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni” meant that the colonists thought they could look good by simply placing feathers in their caps.

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By the way, we still use both “doodle” and “macaroni” today, except the meanings have changed completely. A “doodle” is a quickly made and simple artwork. And “macaroni” is a small noodle.

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One last note on this expression: The word “cap” can belong to anyone. In fact, you can use whatever descriptive words you need to explain who is wearing the cap. For example, winning an Oscar is surely a feather in the cap of any movie director. And getting accepted to a great university is a feather in the cap of any student.

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Hopefully, speaking English is now a feather in your cap!

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And that brings us to the end of another Words and Their Stories.

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Until next time, I’m Anna Matteo.

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重點單詞   查看全部解釋    
species ['spi:ʃiz]

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n. (單復同)物種,種類

 
description [di'skripʃən]

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n. 描寫,描述,説明書,作圖,類型

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conversation [.kɔnvə'seiʃən]

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n. 會話,談話

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except [ik'sept]

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vt. 除,除外
prep. & conj.

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director [di'rektə, dai'rektə]

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n. 董事,經理,主管,指導者,導演

 
descriptive [di'skriptiv]

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adj. 描述的,敍述的 [計算機] 描述性的

 
feather ['feðə]

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n. 羽毛,心情,種類,服飾
vt. 用羽毛裝

 
social ['səuʃəl]

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adj. 社會的,社交的
n. 社交聚會

 
unique [ju:'ni:k]

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adj. 獨一無二的,獨特的,稀罕的

聯想記憶
opposing [ə'pəuziŋ]

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adj. 反作用的,反向的,相反的,對立的 動詞oppo

 
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