Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.
Part of the "American Dream" is to own a home. Many Americans borrow money when they buy a home. They use a mortgage loan, known simply as a mortgage, to help pay for the property. To get the money, the buyer signs an agreement with a bank or loan company. The borrower promises to pay back the money, plus interest, over a period of years.
The word "mortgage" comes from two Old French words. Mort means dead and gage means to promise or pledge. Combine the two terms and you get "death pledge." Perhaps this deadly sounding name is why many people are afraid to buy a house, and choose to rent one instead. Because of the word's French roots, we do not pronounce the letter "t" in mortgage.
The second half of the word, gage, is part of another useful word - engage. Engage has many meanings.
You can enter into battle with, or engage, your enemy. You can engage, or ask, someone to work for you. If you are engaged in a business, you've been taking part in it or doing it.
你可以进入战斗和你的敌人交战，你可以雇佣某人为你工作。如果你涉足了某项生意，意思是你已经开始参与或从事这项生意。（engage部分含义: 1.与某某交战 2.雇佣 3. 涉足）
To engage also means to hold someone's attention. If you have an engaging speaking style, you can hold the attention of others -- or engage them -- for a long time.
To engage还意味着吸引某人的注意力。如果你有着一种引人入胜的说话风格，你就能长时间吸引他人的注意力，或者说是engage them。
An engagement can be a single promise to be some place at a given time. For example, "He has an engagement this evening and won't be able to make it." Or an engagement can be a serious promise to marry someone. You can say, "The couple got engaged two years ago, which makes it a really long engagement!"
Engagement可以是特定时间到某个地方的简单承诺。例如，"He has an engagement this evening and won't be able to make it."（今晚他有个约会但是去不了。）或者engagement可以是与某人结婚的郑重承诺（婚约）。你可以说，这对情侣两年前订了婚，这婚约时间真长。”
But let's leave the happy thoughts of marriage and get back to death. The French term "mort" gives a deathly meaning to other English words – words like mortal, mortality, mortician and mortuary.
As a noun, mortal means a human being. But as an adjective, mortal means something or someone is subject to death. All mortal creatures will die. Mortal can also describe something or someone belonging to this world.
Many religious people believe that when we die, we simply leave our mortal life -- or life on this world -- for an afterlife. Something that does not die is immortal. Clergymen or other religious leaders often pray for a person's "immortal soul."
Mortal can also be used for something or someone with the ability to cause death. For example, someone who is your mortal enemy may want to kill you or they just may never give up in the fight against you. In battle, if you suffer a mortal wound, you are likely to die from it. Mortal combat means a fight to the death. These three are all common word combinations using the word "mortal."
Mortal还能用于形容拥有致死能力的某物或某人。例如，你的mortal enemy（死敌）可能想要杀了你，或者只是不会放弃对抗你。在战斗中，如果你受了mortal wound（致命伤），你可能就会因此而死亡。Mortal combat意思就是殊死搏斗。这三者都是mortal的常见单词组合。
On the lighter side is the word "mortified." When you are mortified, you feel so embarrassed or foolish that you want to die -- but not really. We often use mortified in situations that are not very serious.
Being a mortician, however, can be serious business. A mortician prepares dead people for burial. They also can help plan and organize funerals. The word mortician is a combination of mortuary, a place in which dead bodies are kept, and the suffix –ician, as in physician.
And that's Words and Their Stories from VOA Learning English.