Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.
Some of the most exciting information comes by way of the grapevine.
That is so because reports received through the grapevine are supposed to be secret. The information is all hush hush. It is whispered into your ear with the understanding that you will not pass it on to others.
You feel honored and excited. You are one of the special few to get this information. You cannot wait. You must quickly find other ears to pour the information into. And so, the information - secret as it is – begins to spread. Nobody knows how far.
你感到荣幸和兴奋。你是为数不多的知情者之一。你迫不及待，必须赶紧把这消息告诉他人。这样，这个消息 - 作为秘密开始传播延。没人知道它传了多远。
The expression by the grapevine is more than 100 years old.
by the grapevine（通过小道消息）这句短语已有1百多年历史。
The American inventor, Samuel F. Morse, is largely responsible for the birth of the expression. Among others, he experimented with the idea of telegraphy – sending messages over a wire by electricity. When Morse finally completed his telegraphic instrument, he went before Congress to show that it worked. He sent a message over a wire from Washington to Baltimore. The message was: “What hath God wrought?” This was on May 24th, 1844.
美国发明家萨慕尔．摩斯 (Samuel F. Morse)对这句短语的诞生负很大一部分责任。其中，他进行了电报试验 - 通过电缆传送消息。当摩斯最终完成了他的电报装置，他在国会进行了展示。他从华盛顿通过电缆发了一条消息到巴尔的摩。消息内容就是：“上帝创造了何等奇迹？”这是在1844年5月24日。
Quickly, companies began to build telegraph lines from one place to another. Men everywhere seemed to be putting up poles with strings of wire for carrying telegraphic messages. The workmanship was poor. And the wires were not put up straight.
|Crooked power lines strung and grown like grapevine gave birth to the expression "through the grapevine."|
Some of the results looked strange. People said they looked like a grapevine. A large number of the telegraph lines were going in all directions, as crooked as the vines that grapes grow on. So was born the expression, by the grapevine.
结果看起来有些奇怪。人们说电缆看起来像葡萄藤。大量的电缆线通往四面八方，就像葡萄藤一样歪歪曲曲的。这样就诞生了这个短语，by the grapevine。
Some writers believe that the phrase would soon have disappeared were it not for the American Civil War.
Soon after the war began in 1861, military commanders started to send battlefield reports by telegraph. People began hearing the phrase by the grapevine to describe false as well as true reports from the battlefield. It was like a game. Was it true? Who says so?
1861年内战开始不久，军事指挥员开始通过电报发送战报。人们开始听到用by the grapevine（来自前方电报）这句话描述或真或假的战报。这就像一个鬼把戏，（这个战报情况）是真的吗？谁这么说的？
Now, as in those far-off Civil War days, getting information by the grapevine remains something of a game. A friend brings you a bit of strange news. “No,” you say, “it just can’t be true! Who told you?” Comes the answer, “I got it by the grapevine.”
You really cannot know how much – if any – of the information that comes to you by the grapevine is true or false. Still, in the words of an old American saying, the person who keeps pulling the grapevine shakes down at least a few grapes.
You have been listening to the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories. I’m Christopher Cruise.