Monday, February 15, 2010

Gestures and their meanings in different cultures



Last week, i saw "Inglourious Basterds" , a lovely movie. Anyway, in one of the scences a British soldier hiding is a German one make this gesture when he ordered three drinks


instead of this German gesture


and not to spoil the movie for anyone who wants to watch it, let's just say that things didn't end pleasantly for everyone.

It really made me think about how can gesture mean completely different things in different cultures that can lead to some bad consequences. so i look for some information online and this is some of what i found, enjoy and learn not to make the mistakes of our fellow British soldiers .. and excuse my French -though it's not mine-


what do these four gestures mean in different countries ?




Australia :-

Thumbs-up with a little upward motion can mean up your bum or f**k you, depending on context. If it is still or downwards, it usually means OK or alright (or agreement).
Usually means ''zero'' rather than OK, not common.
''Two beers please'' or ''peace man'' or even ''victory''.
F**k you! But lesser effect and meaning than the middle digit on its own.



Canada:-

Thumbs up. Means ''great'' or ''awesome'' or whatever. Also used to sign approval, but stronger than an OK sign.
OK, alright, good. You can use it to signify approval.
Peace.
F**k you (rarely used).



China :-

OK, good.
Not used.
''I am in the process of having my photograph taken, so I must make this V-sign for some reason'', the same as most places in East Asia.
Not used.



Germany:-

Ok, well done, great.
Job well done or a**hole, depends on region
Peace (rarely used).
Generally means peace (rarely used). In Freiburg and Black Forest region the V-sign with the palm facing the speaker is an insult and considered very vulgar to use.





Greece:-

Means great, good job, OK, congratulations.
OK (rarely used).
Peace.
Two.




Ireland:-


OK, good.
OK.
Peace man.
F**k you.



















Italy:-

OK, go or alright…or used for hitchhiking.
OK.
Peace, victory.
Not used.







Japan:-

Sometimes means ''good'', not widely practiced by adults.
Money, for young people it means OK.
Common sign used that is intended to portray an acceptable level of cuteness when posing for photographs.
Common sign used that is intended to portray an acceptable level of cuteness when posing for photographs




New Zealand:

Means like all good, or yes or anything positve really (when hitchhiking this gesture is also used but held right out so people in cars can see).
It's regarded as a cheesy way of saying OK. Not much used.
Peace sign. People do it to each other mostly if they know them and if it is a common gesture betweeen friends.
Another rude sign for the fingers (middle finger). Commonly seen used by drivers out the side window when someones forgotten to indicate, and accompanied by the horn and some unmentionable words.






Russia:-


Well done, good.
Many people would understand this as OK, but they don't use this sign.
Many people would understand this as ''victory'' (because of western films etc), but they don't use this sign.
Many people would understand this as ''victory'' (because of western films etc), but they don't use this sign.



Spain:-


All right.
OK.
Victory, achievement.
Victory, achievement.




Sweden:-


OK, great.
OK.
Peace.
Not used.






Turkey:-


Not used.
Homosexual.
Not used.
Not used.





United Kingdom:-


OK, good.
OK.
Peace man.
F**k you. *)


*) A popular theory regarding this version of the V-sign goes back all the time to when England and France were at war. The English longbowmen were very feared and considered to be the best archers. When English archers were captured the French cut off the index and middle finger of the hand in order to render them useless as archers should future battles occur. As a crude form of psychological warfare the English Longbowmen showed these two fingers to the French before battle in order to show that they were able to kick their ass on the battlefied.




USA:-

Thumbs up. Means ''great'' or ''awesome'' or whatever. Also used to sign approval, but stronger than an OK sign.
OK, alright, good. You can use it to signify approval.
Peace. The outward-facing-palm posture associates more with as something a hippie stoner would do.
Peace. Palm-facing-inward is more ''hip-hop''.





Wikipedia has more info about gestures and their meanings in different cultures







8 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing those. I find cultural things like this so interesting. Now I can refer back here to make sure I don't make any offending gestures. :)

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  2. Nice post! I'd like to point out that in the UK, the thumbs up is the same as New Zealand. It's also used for hitch hiking.

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  3. Funny! I remember when the former US president, George Bush (the older Bush) travelled abroad and used the "two finger salute". Of course in the USA it means "peace" and where he was at it means "fu** off" as you mentioned. I know he didnt mean it........lol

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  4. Susanne, it's very interesting indeed espically when you go too deep into why they mean this and that.


    Jaz, thanx for the clearfication :)


    ابوسنان, lol i guess presidents should have people who know such things with them in their world visits.

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  5. i have no idea why...but i always thought F/U was the pinky finger..and then like a few months ago my son told me it was the middle finger

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  6. angie, lol yea why? . glad that you know now so you won't make any mistake using it.lol

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  7. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. I was talking with someone from Iraq and I did the "thumbs up" sign to mean OK and then someone told me afterward that in Iraq it means something bad... Oops. I try to keep my hands out of the conversation now if I'm talking to people from other places. (And that sounds funny phrased that way, doesn't it? hehe)

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  8. eyes serene, so you are one of those who used their hands while talking. it's abig trouble, lol. i do it all the time and you tend to make signs that might be offensive so be careful, lol

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Thank you for your comment :)