bkswrites

“We’ll do 90 minutes, … mano-a-mano, Donald and me.”

In lost in translation, lost meanings on January 27, 2016 at 9:42 pm

Ted Cruz, Fairfield Iowa, Jan. 27

Either Ted Cruz really wants to physically duke it out with Donald Trump, or I hope his Cuban-born father Raphael will give him a mano-a-mejilla (mejilla de la cara o de la nalga*, I don’t really care) lesson in Spanish.

I’m just sick of this misrepresentation of a phrase that’s come so strongly into use by speakers of English. But even worse, for me, is to hear it misused by someone presumed to have an inkling what it really means, whether through his heritage or his position as Senator from Texas. Certainly it also irks me because it’s so testosterone poisoned, with its implication that males, especially “ethnic” males, enjoy more important kinds of battles than anything involving a “womana.”

What could hand-to-hand combat possibly have to do with running for President, either? Is it some kind of proof of hawkishness, as if a President Cruz or Trump would be taking on opponents on the world stage in this style? While I’d rather see international disputes settled by champions than by armies, I shudder as much at the thought of either of these men playing that role as I do at picturing them at a real negotiating table, where the risks involve such threats as nuclear war. But that’s another discussion for another venue. Here, I’ll try to stick to language.

Maybe he really wants to arm wrestle.

*My advanced-Spanish-student cousin, Sara Kilker, knew enough to question a Peruvian friend, who says mejilla isn’t really used for nalgada, but this being a rant about English, I’m going to stick with the parallel construction, which I find funnier.

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