28. Giving a Hand

Jaime, a new immigrant, was attending his daughter's performance in a school play. His daughter, Carol, five years old. She was a kindergarten student the local public school. Carol did not have very big role in the school play. She playing a rain cloud in a play about drought in California. Carol had one line. Her was, " I am sad enough to cry how dry the state is."

Jaime and his made sure to arrive early so that they get a good seat in the auditorium. They seats in the front row. Before the show , the school principle made an introductory speech. The was about how hard the students and teachers together to make the play possible. At the of the speech, the principal said, "Let's give school staff a hand".

Jaime, whose English was very good, stood up when the principal said . He knew that when people said "to give a hand" they meant they needed help. Jaime wanted to help, especially at his daughter's school. thought maybe they needed help backstage.

Jaime's wife her arm in front of her husband. "Where you going?" she whispered. "They need a hand," whispered back. His wife explained that "to give a hand" could also mean to applaud someone. " don't need help. They just want us to ," Jaime's wife said. Jaime felt a little embarrassed. sat back down and began clapping along with rest of the audience.

Jaime thought to himself someone needed to give the English language a . How could one phrase mean two different things? meant the English language needed help.