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.
The expression by the grapevine is more than one hundred years old.
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 twenty-fourth, eighteen forty-four.
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.
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.
Some writers believe that the phrase would soon have disappeared were it not for the American Civil War.
Soon after the war began in eighteen sixty-one, 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?
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.
一些最激动人心的消息是通过小道消息(by way of the grapevine)传播的。
美国发明家萨缪尔·摩尔斯 (Samuel F. Morse)对这句短语的诞生有很大贡献。他对电报进行了实验——通过电线来传播信息。当他的电报设施实验成功之后，他来到国会展示工作原理。他从华盛顿向巴尔的摩发送了一条消息。消息的内容是圣经上的一句话：“上帝创造了什么样的奇迹呀？”当时是1844年5月24日。
有一些线路非常奇怪，人们说看上去像葡萄藤一样。大量电报线伸展向各个方向，就像葡萄藤生长的那样弯曲。所以这个表达方式就诞生了，by the grapevine。
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。这就像一个游戏。这是真的吗？这是谁说的？
现在，在内战早已远去的日子里，获取小道信息仍保留着鬼把戏的味道。一个朋友给你带来一个奇怪的消息。 “不，”你说，“这不可能是真的！谁告诉你吗？”他回答道：“这是我得到的小道消息。（I got it by the grapevine.）”
你真的不知道通过小道得到的消息有多少，如果有的话，是真的还是假的。还是美国的那句老话，摇晃葡萄藤的人至少晃下几个葡萄（theperson who keeps pulling the grapevine shakes down at least a few grapes.）（意为大量小道消息中，总有些是真的）。
1. They were told to desist from spreading grapevine news.
2. I heard on the grapevine that you're leaving.
hush hush 是形容词，意思是机密的，秘而不宣的。例如：
They managed to keep the scandal very hush hush but then a newspaper reporter found out about it.
by the grapevine通过小道消息得来
You must have heard it by the grapevine.