Get a grip of this
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)