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Now, the VOA Special English program, "Words and Their Stories".
Stories about ghosts and other spirits have scared people through the ages. Some ghosts, however, are not to be feared. They are ghostwriters just as a ghost is a spirit that you cannot see. A ghostwriter is a writer whose name is unseen. A ghostwriter is a person who is paid to write a speech, report or book for another person. Usually, that other person is famous but not as a writer. The ghostwriter does the writing and gets paid for it. But his name is not on the book as the writer. Sometimes famous people want to tell the story of their lives. Now a person may have been a great success as a movie star, for example, but he may not be much of a writer. So a ghostwriter is needed. The writer uses the ideas, memories and life history of the movie star to produce a book that seems written by the actor.
Ghost writing happens a lot in politics. Most political leaders including legislators are much too busy to write their own speeches. So politicians have speechwriters whose words become known, but whose names and faces are unknown.
There is an old expression that "there is nothing new under the sun." Like most popular sayings, it has some truth to it, especially about ideas for political speeches. Politicians often borrow expressions or ideas from others. Sometimes, they give credit to the person who first uses the idea.
But sometimes they do not. For example, in 1933, president Franklin Roosevelt told the country: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. The words were very similar to some by an American writer Henry David Thoreau more than 100 years ago. Thoreau wrote nothing is so much to be feared as fear and that sounds like a 400 year old statement by French writer Michel de Montaigne: the thing of which I have most fear is fear.
Abraham Lincoln before he was president also borrowed one of his best-known sayings. He used the saying in a speech about slavery, which was dividing the country north against the south. Lincoln said a nation divided against itself half slave and half free could not exist. As Lincoln put it, a house divided against itself can not stand. Lincoln must to read the book of mark in the Christian Bible. In it, Jesus Christ tells his followers if a house be divided against itself that house can not stand.
This VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories was written by Marilyn Rice Christiano . Maurice Joyce was the narrator.