Now, the VOA Special English program, WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.
In the early days of human history, people survived by hunting wild animals, or gathering wild grains and plants for food. Then, some people learned to grow crops and raise animals for food. They were the first farmers.
Since the sixteenth century, the word farm has meant agricultural land. But a much older meaning of the word farm is linked to economics. The word farm comes from the Latin word, firma, which means an unchanging payment.
Experts say the earliest meaning of the English word farm was a yearly payment made as a tax or rent.
Farmers in early England did not own their land. They paid every year to use agricultural lands.
In England, farmers used hawthorn trees along the edges of property. They called this row of hawthorns a hedge.
Hedging fields was how careful farmers marked and protected them.
Soon, people began to use the word hedging to describe steps that could be taken to protect against financial loss.
Hedging is common among s who make large bets. A gambler bets a lot of money on one team. But, to be on the safe side, he also places a smaller bet on the other team, to reduce a possible loss.
You might say that someone is hedging his bet when he invests in several different kinds of businesses. One business may fail, but likely not all.
Farmers know that it is necessary to make hay while the sun shines.
Hay has to be cut and gathered when it is dry. So a wise farmer never postpones gathering his hay when the sun is shining. Rain may soon appear.
A wise person copies the farmer. He works when conditions are right.
A new mother, for example, quickly learns to try to sleep when her baby is quiet, even in the middle of the day. If the mother delays, she may lose her chance to sleep. So, the mother learns to make hay while the sun shines.
Beans are a popular farm crop. But beans are used to describe something of very little value in the expression, not worth a hill of beans. The expression is often used today.
You could say, for example, that a bad idea is not worth a hill of beans.
Language expert Charles Earle Funk said the expression was first used almost seven hundred years ago. He said Robert of Gloucester described a message from the King of Germany to King John of England as altogether not worth a bean.
This VOA Special English program, WORDS AND THEIR STORIES, was written by Marilyn Rice Christiano. Maurice Joyce was the narrator. I'm Shirley Griffith.
The two girls always play together under the large hawthorn.
2.hedge n. 对冲, 套购保值, 抛买
In a shrewd hedging of bets, Microsoft is also working on a distributed OS, a research endeavor dubbed Project Millennium.
3.gambler n. 赌徒；投机商人
He had never been afraid of failure: he was a gambler, ready to go off somewhere else and start all over again.
1.But, to be on the safe side, he also places a smaller bet on the other team, to reduce a possible loss.
on the safe side 安全可靠，稳妥
Let's take more money than we think we'll need, just to be on the safe side.
Although the sun was shining,I took an umbrella to be on the safe side.
2.You could say, for example, that a bad idea is not worth a hill of beans.
a hill of beans 少量；小事；毫无价值
It's not worth a hill of beans , ie It is worth very little.
Jack wasn't a hill of beans to her.
在人类早期历史上，人是靠捕猎野生动物、或收集谷物或植物作为食物的。然后，有些人学会种植作物，饲养动物为食 。他们就是最初的农民 。
比如，初为人母者会在宝宝安静的时候很快学会睡觉，甚至是中午。如果妈妈耽误了，她可能就失去睡觉的机会 。所以，妈妈必须抓住时机 。
大豆是一种常见的作物，但beans在not worth a hill of beans中表示价值很小的东西，这个用法今天还很常用。