Now, Words and Their Stories, a VOA Learning English program about American expressions. I’m Anna Matteo with expressions using the word “sun.”
The first expression is about everything, everything under the sun. If you own a store that sold many different items, your advertisements could say you sell everything under the sun. This would not be exactly true, of course. But what would advertising be without some creative descriptions?
Here is another example: Let’s say you are talking with a friend you have not seen for a long time. The two of you could have a lot of catching up to do. So, you talk about everything under the sun.
Under the sun is an old expression – at least 3,000 years old. It means everywhere the sun shines. King Solomon of Israel used it in the Bible. He wrote that nothing under the sun is new. What has been will be again, he said, and what has been done will be done again.
If there is nothing new under the sun, there is nothing new anywhere.
New or old, few things can be hidden in the bright light of the sun.
That leads to another expression: a sunshine law. This law says that all government meetings must be open to the public. In some states, sunshine laws also say the government must permit the public to see government records.
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspaper published a report about the value of sunshine laws. It told about how officials of a local government met secretly with a land developer to discuss using public land for a private entertainment center. The deal was stopped when it finally became publicly known.
“It often takes a crisis,” the newspaper report said, “to awaken citizens to their rights under the state sunshine laws.” It said the laws are called that because they shine sunlight on dark corners where secret deals can be made.
Another expression about the sun is Sunbelt. The word describes the warmer states of the American south, from Florida to California. The warmer weather in the Sunbelt causes many people to move there. They move from the Frostbelt, the colder northern states, and the Rustbelt, the older industrial states.
In addition, labor costs are lower in the Sunbelt, and labor unions are not as strong as in the north. So many companies moved their factories to the Sunbelt. Workers followed. By 1990, the Sunbelt cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio were among the ten largest cities in the United States.
From geographic areas to music, the word “sun” finds its place.
Every type of music -- from rock to pop to country -- has songs about the sun. One of the most popular is “You Are My Sunshine.” What began as a sad love song is now a classic children’s song. Many performers have recorded this song. Here is part of it.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You’ll never know dear how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away
The rock group Beatles sang several songs with “sun” in the title. A couple are “Here Comes the Sun” and “Good Day Sunshine.”
Elton John sang “Don’t Let Sun Go Down on Me.” And the musical group 5th Dimension wanted to let the sunshine in on a United States that was heavily involved in the Vietnam War.
This song was originally in the musical theater performance and movie “Hair,” which criticized the Vietnam War.
“Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In” became a popular song in the anti-war culture in the 1960s U.S.
I’m Anna Matteo. Peace.
Let the sun shine in, let the sun shine in, the sun shine in …
This VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories was written by Frank Beardsley with revisions and music references by Anna Matteo.