Get a grip of this

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE - By LU­CILLE DASS

SOME 10 years ago, I came to know about a book ti­tled The Hand by Frank R Wil­son in which the author posits that the hu­man hand holds the key to the evo­lu­tion of hu­man in­tel­li­gence.

He makes an in­ter­est­ing (if con­tro­ver­sial) case for the “mar­riage of hand and mind”. In­trigu­ing, but the con­tri­bu­tion of our hands to the evo­lu­tion of our in­tel­li­gence is not my sub­ject at hand for this page. Yet, the book ti­tle alone is a re­mark­able re­minder of how as­ton­ish­ing our hands are, in them­selves, and in re­la­tion to the rest of our body, from head (brain in­cluded) to toe.

My in­ter­est in hands-re­lated lit­er­a­ture be­gan, nat­u­rally, with the sen­sate re­al­i­sa­tion that far from be­ing merely an ap­pendage, this amaz­ingly dy­namic body part does ev­ery­thing it is bid: covert or overt op­er­a­tions, in­spired or in­sti­gated, both lit­eral and/or fig­u­ra­tive. Def­i­nitely, it also has a hand in the lin­guis­tic do­main! See, how with equal ver­sa­til­ity and in­ven­tive­ness, hands mark our use of lan­guage and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, again both lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively. Also, we can­not ig­nore how hand ex­pres­sions form a vi­tal means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion for the deaf and the mute.

Per­haps, if I put my mind to it, I might be able to turn my hand to writ­ing a hand­book on the use of hands! Af­ter hav­ing come to grips with this handy tool for lan­guage ed­u­ca­tion pur­poses, “hands” have var­i­ously shaped sev­eral of my con­fer­ence pre­sen­ta­tions and teacher work­shops on drama and lan­guage teach­ing. Some years ago I handed in an ar­ti­cle that re­ferred in part, to their use in the teach­ing of both gram­mar and drama ( MOE, Feb 1, 2002). Call me an old hand at this, I won’t mind, though be­ing a dab hand at it might sound more flat­ter­ing. In­deed, hands can make and/or mar things, and do much else in be­tween. Yes, as you can tell, I have my hands full try­ing to con­vey the hand­some con­tri­bu­tion this body part makes to the forms and func­tions of the English lan­guage.

I have it first hand that in the hands of a ca­pa­ble teacher work­ing hand in glove with this body part, a range of in­ter­est­ing ac­tiv­i­ties can be cre­ated for a hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence of learn­ing English the fun way. As­so­cia­tive lan­guage learn­ing – be it gram­mar, vo­cab­u­lary, id­iomatic ex­pres­sion, rhyme or rhythm – is made pos­si­ble through the use of a va­ri­ety of hand sig­nals or ges­tures. A real help­ing hand, there. Noth­ing that you can­not han­dle, re­ally. No hand­stands or any com­plex hand­i­work is re­quired. Be­fore you know it, learn­ers will be eat­ing out of your

Hands do ev­ery­thing they are bid. hands, trust me. Since most peo­ple are good with their hands, you will be sur­prised at the bunch of ea­ger learn­ers you have got on your hands! Make sure you have the up­per hand though, so that the sit­u­a­tion does not get out of hand with all the fun in­volved.

Okay, Hands up! (No, I am not hold­ing you at gun­point!) I am us­ing plain teach-speak for a show of hands if you wish to try your hand at a quiz bit. Do also hand it on to oth­ers. Sure, many of you will score and win hands down! If so, please ac­cept my con­grat­u­la­tory hand­shake. With that, let me hand over to you this next bit for your sleight of hand.

Com­plete the fol­low­ing with the most ap­pro­pri­ate hand/hands re­lated ex­pres­sion in each case ( Note: none of the ex­pres­sions used above ap­ply as an­swers.)

1. Thomas lay awake all night, wor­ry­ing that the con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ments may _________.

2. _________, I can tell you that I did not take that bribe. You have to be­lieve me.

3. Hey, these chicken curry puffs are for the party tonight, so _______ __!

4. Kevin, could you please _______ __? I can­not man­age ev­ery­thing by my­self.

5. Tell me Lily, why do I al­ways end up hav­ing to _________ for all the pur­chases you make?

I also have in hand, to share with you some other com­mon mean­ings at­tached to hand/hands:

> a work­man (in a fac­tory, on a farm)

> the mov­ing arm of a clock/ watch that shows the hours, min­utes and sec­onds

> a set of cards that a player has in a game

> a unit of mea­sure­ment for the height of horses

An­swers to quiz

1. fall into the wrong hands (re­ceived by peo­ple who could use it against oth­ers)

2. With (my) hand on (my)heart (speak­ing very hon­estly and sin­cerely)

3. (keep your) hands off! (don’t touch) 4. lend a hand (help) 5. put (my) hand into (my) pocket (pay)

6. bound/tied (the me­dia) hand and foot (limited its free­dom by cre­at­ing rules/re­stric­tions)

7. give a big hand (wel­come/ praise with clap­ping)

8. have got to hand it to (him) (give well-de­served praise for suc­cess/skill)

9. get­ting (his) hands dirty (to do phys­i­cal/man­ual work)

10. hand down (pass down/give or leave some­thing to some­body younger); in good hands (well cared for by a re­spon­si­ble per­son)

Amaz­ingly dy­namic:

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