Now, the VOA Special English program WORDS AND THEIR STORIES. Today's word, pan, takes us back to the days of the gold rush in California.
On January twenty-fourth, eighteen forty-eight, a man named James Wilson Marshall discovered gold in the territory of California. The news spread quickly. Thousands rushed west. They traveled on foot, by horseback and by boat to reach the gold fields. By eighteen forty-nine, the great gold rush was on.
1848年1月24日，一个名叫詹姆斯·威尔逊·马歇尔（James Wilson Marshall）的人在加利福尼亚境内发现了黄金。这个消息很快传开了，成千上万的人徒步，骑马或乘船奔向加州西部的黄金地带。到1849年，淘金热开始了。
Towns and cities grew overnight. Throughout the territory – in the mountains, along the streams and rivers – thousands of people searched for gold. They had food to eat and blankets to cover them. They also had mules to ride, and picks and pans to search for gold.
Some found areas of mountain rock thick with gold. These men got rich. But such areas were few and quickly claimed by the first men to find them. Others searched for gold in the rivers coming down the mountains. They were after pieces of gold that the rains had washed down from above.
The only way to find this gold was by panning. First a gold miner put dirt in a metal pan and added water. Then he shook the pan so that the water would wash the dirt. Slowly, he poured the water out of the pan. If he was a lucky miner, pieces of gold would remain.
Across the nation, newspapers carried stories of the gold being found. One told how thousands of people climbed the mountains looking for gold. Some stories told how others followed the rivers and streams with pans. Each one hoped that the place he claimed panned out well – had some gold.
For many, gold mining did not pan out. For a few, it panned out well. But in time, huge machines were built that could wash many tons of dirt at a time. Panning died out.
对大多数人来说，用淘金盆淘金并没有收获。只有少数人有所收获（pan out well）。随着时代的发展，一种一次可以洗掉几吨泥的机器诞生了，人们就不再用淘金盆淘金了。
The word, however, remained in the language. Today, Americans still say, "It panned out well," when something they have done pleases them. A business, a discovery, a simple event pans out well if it is successful. Unhappily, sometimes things do not pan out.
但是，这个词语还在语言中保留着。现在美国人还用它来表达“结果很好”。当他们所做的事情成功了，事业、发现或简单的事情成功了就可以用pans out well这个短语表达。相反，若没成功就用things do not pan out表达。
In recent years, the word pan has taken on another meaning. Today, it also means to criticize. How it got this meaning is hard to discover. But the job of a critic is to sometimes pan the work of a writer, artist or singer.
Sometimes, critics may pan a movie or play so severely that no one will go to see it. There are times, however, when a play became highly successful, even though most of the critics panned it without mercy. The pans should have washed out the play. But, as actors have pointed out, sometimes a critic's pan turns up gold.