Whenever US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds a press conference, he answers only four or five questions, unlike his boss President Donald Trump, who sometimes has long and rambling press conferences. The word “rambling” used this way means lengthy and not to the point. Pompeo prefers to make strong points in a short opening statement, answer a few questions, and then leave. He used several interesting expressions at a press conference last week during which he discussed the Middle East, China, the WHO, and a coronavirus vaccine. One expression he used was “playing footsie with” when he talked about the Lebanon-based Islamist political party and militant group Hezbollah.
Pompeo said the new government in Lebanon must make genuine political reforms as demanded by the people, and Hezbollah must disarm. He accused some people of “playing footsie with” Hezbollah. This expression has several meanings. The common meaning is secretly using your feet to touch someone’s feet under the table for sexual reasons. If several people are having a meeting and the boss secretly uses his feet to touch his secretary’s feet under the table, he is “playing footsie with” his secretary. But the expression, as used by Pompeo, means to work together or cooperate with each other in a dishonest way.
Pompeo made clear the US will not join a WHO plan for countries to cooperate on a coronavirus vaccine so that the vaccine can be fairly shared globally. But Pompeo said no country is more committed to providing a vaccine globally than the US. He said the US will “dwarf” every country in providing funding. A “dwarf” is a very short person with a disproportionate body. Some parts are small and other parts are average or much larger than average. But to “dwarf” someone or something, when used as a verb, means to make the other person or thing much smaller by comparison. Pompeo meant US funding to help the world fight the coronavirus will “dwarf” or be far more than other countries.
每當美國國務卿蓬佩奧召開記者招待會時，他只會回答四或五條問題，不像他的上司、總統特朗普，會舉行長時間而漫無邊際的（rambling）記者會。Rambling在這裏是指冗長而不着邊際的。蓬佩奧寧願用簡短的發言帶出要點，回答幾道問題，然後便離開。他上星期在記者會上談及中東、中國、世界衞生組織以及新冠肺炎疫苗期間，用了幾個有趣的習語。當他談及以黎巴嫩為基地的伊斯蘭政治和軍事組織真主黨時，就用到習語“playing footsie with”。
蓬佩奧說，黎巴嫩的新政府必須應人民的要求，進行真正的政治改革，而真主黨亦必須解除武裝。他指責一些人在“playing footsie with”真主黨。這個習語有幾個意思，最普遍的意思是在桌底下暗暗與人碰腳調情。若有幾個人在開會，老闆卻在枱底下偷偷用腳掃秘書的腳，那他就在“playing footsie with” his secretary。然而，蓬佩奧用到這個習語，意思是不誠實地暗中勾結、合作。
世衞計劃讓各國合作研發新冠肺炎疫苗，好讓疫苗能公平地全球共享，蓬佩奧表明美國不會參與這個計劃。蓬佩奧卻又說，沒有任何一個國家比美國更致力於研發一個給全球使用的疫苗。他說美國會“dwarf”每一個提供資金的國家。A “dwarf”是極為矮小而身體不均稱的侏儒，他們的一些部位較短小，而另一些部位則是平均或比一般人的為大。然而，作動詞用時，to “dwarf”某人或某事，意指令另一個人或事物相形見絀。蓬佩奧的意思是，美國協助世界抵抗新冠肺炎疫情所投入的資金，將會遠超其他國家，或令其他國家相形見絀（dwarf）。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧