道聽途説 – Word on the Street
Today, I translated another tale from the textbook. It calls up a couple chucklesome mental images.
艾先生說：「我這一次到楚國去了好幾個月, 我們國內可有甚麼新聞? 請你講一兩件給我聽聽, 好不好?」
毛空說：「你要聽新聞, 那可多得很. 在京城郊外的一個農家, 一隻母鴨孵出來一百多隻小鴨.」
Word on the Street
There once was a man from Qi, last name Mao, first name Kong, who loved to tell tall tales. Though he spoke methodically, his stories didn’t add up, like if you saw the mouth of a horse on the head of a cow, so his listeners thought he was one hundred percent laughable.
One day, Mr. Ai returned from a trip to the state of Chu. Mao Kong went to visit him, and the two of them had a chat.
Mr. Ai said, “I’ve been abroad for several months now. Surely something’s happened in our country while I was gone. Could you please give me some news?”
Mao Kong said, “You want it, you’ve got it. On a farm outside the capital, a duck gave birth to over a hundred ducklings.”
Mr. Ai shook his head and said, “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Then it was two ducks.”
“That can’t be true, either.”
“Then it must have been ten ducks.”
“Why do you keep adding ducks instead of taking away ducklings?”
“I’d rather have a bigger story than a smaller one,” Mao Kong said proudly.
This gave Mr. Ai pause, but then he ventured: “Is there any more news?”
Mao Kong said, “Several days ago, a giant piece of meat fell down from heaven. It was 100 meters long and 30 meters wide.”
“Where on earth could such a bizarre thing happen?!”
“Okay, if it wasn’t 100 meters long and 30 meters wide, then it was 150 meters long and 60 meters wide.”
Mr. Ai couldn’t take it anymore. “Please tell me, what’s the farmer’s name? Where did the meat land? Where’s your proof?”
Mao Kong replied, “People like you are so stubborn! How could the word on the street be wrong?”
-“Mao” means “tail” and “Kong” means “empty” or “sky.”
-When I first heard Mao Kong’s last line read aloud, I thought he was saying “If travelers on the road were as demanding as you, how would anyone ever get home?” Not a bad retort itself.