Saturday, April 28, 2007

Vocabulary Corner (Spanish-to-English Edition)

Mano means "hand", obra means "work". Together, mano de obra means "labor" (literally, "handi-work"). We know this because a Mexican friend told us about vistiting the US a few years ago, when her car broke down. After calling a tow truck and getting an estimate on the repair, she then asked the guy how much for the handjob.

Vocabulary blunders can lead to some serious misunderstandings. Just ask the now-former Administrator of USAID:

Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias submitted his resignation Friday, one day after confirming to ABC News that he had been a customer of a Washington, D.C. escort service whose owner has been charged by federal prosecutors with running a prostitution operation.

Tobias, 65, director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), had previously served as the ambassador for the President's Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief.

A State Department press release late Friday afternoon said only he was leaving for "personal reasons."

On Thursday, Tobias told ABC News he had several times called the "Pamela Martin and Associates" escort service "to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage." Tobias, who is married, said there had been "no sex," and that recently he had been using another service "with Central Americans" to provide massages.

Well can't you just see how this happened? The guy in charge of dispensing aid to Central America has a bunch of Central American gals over to the condo to work out the knots in his shoulders, when - because Republicans are a fiscally responsible lot - he innocently asks what all this mano de obra is costing him. BLAM! The muckraking press is all over the guy.

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