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Word for the Wise December 18, 2006 Broadcast Topic: Pandemonium

50 years ago today, the game show To Tell the Truth made its television premiere. To tell the truth, when the show started, it was called Nothing But the Truth. No matter what it was called, however, the program’s premise hinged on panelists’ ability to discern bluffing from truth-telling. (来源:英语聊天室 http://chat.EnglishCN.com)

Today we’re playing along by passing along three purported explanations for how pandemonium made its way into English. Your job is to tell which—if any—tale is nothing but the truth.

Story number one: the excitement that spread across Europe and the U.S. when baby pandas first traveled outside Asia in the early part of the 20th century gave birth to the word pandemonium.

Story number two: pandemonium comes from Pandora’s Box, the box sent by the Greek gods to the mythological Pandora with the explicit instruction not to open it. When curiosity overcame her, Pandora opened the box and loosed a swarm of evils—pandemonium—upon mankind. Since then, pandemonium has come to name any wild uproar.

Story number three: neither Greek mythology nor Asian mammals gave us pandemonium: instead, the word comes from English poet John Milton. In Paradise Lost, that writer referred to the capital of Hell as Pandemonium, after the Greek words for "all; everywhere (pan);" plus "daimon," or "demon."

Did you make your guess? To tell the truth, we think we’ve told this tale before, so story number three—John Milton—should ring a bell.

 
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