The Talk of the Streets
Gossip has a long history. This idiom is just the one to describe the talk of streets. It comes from a story that took place thousands years ago.
Today, we'll learn a phrase that literally means “to pick up the gossip on the street and pass it round immediately”. It reads “Dao Ting Tu Shuo”. Now we use it to describe gossip. It comes from a story concerning a teacher, Ai Zi, who lived in the Warring States Period in ancient China.
Ai Zi returned to the Kingdom of Qi. On his arrival, he met a guy who loved to talk big. The man whispered to Ai Zi that a duck raised by a family in the city laid 100 eggs at one time.
Hearing this, Ai Zi said it was impossible.
Then the man said, “Actually, it was two ducks that laid the 100 eggs.”
Ai Zi shook his head in disbelief.
At last, the man, who was rather a boaster, said, “It's certainly possible for four, eight or ten ducks to lay 100 eggs at once.”
Ai Zi still didn't believe the man, no matter how hard he tried to convince him.
But the fellow continued to talk big. He told Ai Zi, “Last month, a piece of meat dropped from the sky. It was wider than 30 meters and longer than 90.” Of course, Ai Zi didn't believe him.
Then the man changed the numbers into smaller ones. At last, Ai Zi was tired of this nonsense. He said, “Is there a piece of meat as large as you said. Not to mention that it dropped from the sky. Is it you who witnessed it? Just now you told me of a duck that lays 100 eggs at one time. Where is it?”
The man couldn't think of what to say. Finally, he admitted, “I heard all these things on the road. ”
Ai Zi warned his students not to follow this man's example, and coined the idiom meaning ‘to pick up gossip on the street and pass it round immediately'. In Chinese it reads “Dao Ting Tu Shuo”.