Telltale signs?

中国日报网 2017-04-25 10:59



Telltale signs?

Reader question:

Please explain “telltale signs”, as in “some telltale signs of lying”.

My comments:

Telltale signs are, literally, signs that tell, that tell the tale.

You see, telltale is sometimes spelled with a hyphen, as tell-tale. So tell-tale signs are signs that tell the tale, the true tale, that is.

Tell-tale signs of lying then are signs, outward signs of someone lying, telling a lie.

We understand that when people lie, they are less relaxed and less assured, they don’t look at you in the eye as much, their heart beats faster, they repeat themselves much more than usual, etc. and so forth.

But, I have to admit that yours truly is no authority on the matter. I’m no expert at all on this subject. I am not sure, you see, if any of the things I’ve just said is true even though by hunch I think they are all true.

I think they’re all true but I am also very doubtful. Take, Donald Trump, for example. The new US President is known for being a serial liar, aside from being a successful businessman and a TV star. When Trump speaks, he kind of repeats himself all the time, more or less every other sentence.

My question is, is he lying all the time, or what?

Perhaps professionals can handle this. Perhaps businesspeople, politicians and people who are on TV a lot are well trained enough to pull it off.

Like it is with everything else, practice makes perfect. I guess if you lie often enough, you will get better at doing it. Eventually, you’ll be able to do it without blushing, without batting an eye.

Anyways, tell-tale as an adjective is descriptive of something that is telling and revealing, giving the game away.

As noun, by the way, telltale refers to someone who is an avid gossip, who likes to tell things behind people. Telltales cannot keep a secret and are wont to spill the beans, so to speak.

All right, media examples of telltale as an adjective, as in telltale signs, traces or evidence:

1. The ancient Egyptians wore jewelry made from space rock, and meteors raining from the sky may have shaped their ideas of the gods, according to new analysis of a 5,000-year-old iron bead.

The iron in the 2-centimeter-long tube-like bauble — found at a burial site near Cairo — couldn't have come from accidental smelting. The iron has a distinct crystallization pattern, typical of the metal that cooled slowly inside asteroids, as the space rocks curdled and hardened when our solar system was young. Also, there’s a tell-tale trace of nickel mixed into the metal, which was not part of any ancient Egyptian process.

Diane Johnson from the UK's Open University and and Joyce Tyldesley from the University of Manchester studied the bead, and report that the metal was hammered into sheets and then bent into a tube. The source of the metal mattered to the ancient culture, say the experts.

“The sky was very important to the ancient Egyptians,” Tyldesley, an Egyptologist, told Nature News. “Something that falls from the sky is going to be considered as a gift from the gods.”

- Ancient Egyptian space jewelry? Iron in bead came from meteorite,, May 30, 2013.

2. WHEN purchasing a new home, would you take out a building and pest inspection? What about a meth inspection?

Methamphetamine use is on the rise in Australia and the health consequences of contamination in the home can be serious.

According to a study by the Medical Journal of Australia the number of Australians using the illicit stimulant drug has almost tripled over the past five years. The study shows there are 268,000 regular users in Australia, with over half of those classified as dependent on the drug.

Bryan Goodall, National Sales Manager of Octief, an environmental consulting and laboratory services company, told that meth contamination is insidious, often going undetected with no obvious warning signs.

Unlike other substances, such as tobacco or cannabis, there is no telltale evidence of use which makes it hard to detect as homebuyer or landlord.

“There is a big misconception with meth that it is just a drug like cannabis or cigarette smoke,” Mr Goodall said.

The contamination also remains in the home long after the manufacturers or users have moved out, even if there have been renovations.

“Methamphetamine is different. It is chemical-based so it does not go away. It isn’t biodegradable and it doesn’t disappear. Contamination can remain in the house of years and years after it was smoked or manufactured in the house,” Mr Goodall told

“You might walk into a house with brand new carpets and brand new paint and a nice, new renovated kitchen. You can’t see what is underneath it. That house is potentially still contaminated ... You can paint over the plaster board but the stuff will leak back through the paint. It does not go away.”

- Methamphetamine use is on the rise and contamination in the home is serious,, November 14, 2016.

3. The New York Times posted an article Sunday about the new Trump White House, calling the adjustments happening in the West Wing “turbulent.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer immediately tried to brush off the story as “fake news.”

What grabbed the most attention in the article, however, was a strange line about President Donald Trump watching the news in his bathrobe.

“There were just literally blatant factual errors and it’s unacceptable to see that kind of reporting or so-called reporting,” he said during a press meeting aboard Air Force One on Monday.

Spicer used the odd story as a telltale sign that the article includes many falsehoods.

“I don’t even think the president owns a bathrobe. He definitely doesn’t wear one,” he said.

Twitter users quickly started sharing photos of Trump in loungewear to prove the press secretary wrong.

- Photo of Trump in a bathrobe emerges amid spat with New York Times,, February 7, 2017.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:Julie)




















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