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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.
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.