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  #1  
Old 14 Jan 2012
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Rude hand gestures

I know this is a weird topic, but quite appropriate for the HU Bar...

When traveling in areas where my language skills are somewhat limited, I know I've often resorted to what I assumed to be universally recognized hand signals. Simple signals such as a "thumbs up" for "excellent" or the universal scuba diving 'OK" sign come to mind.

I was reminded the other day, however, of a friend back in university who tried years ago to hitchhike through the Middle East using the thumb symbol recognized widely in North America. I remember him telling me that he was disappointed that he was not getting picked up... only to learn after arriving back home that basically he had been telling every driver who passed to "sit on it and twist".

I'm headed off to Europe and Russia again this summer and want to avoid the inadvertent insults I've widely broadcast in the past. As a primer, I've read the rather hysterical article The top 10 hand gestures you'd better get right | Language Trainers UK Blog but was wondering if anyone might be aware of any others to be avoided or have any good tales to tell. Hey, we can all learn from YOUR mistakes.
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Old 14 Jan 2012
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the V sign information is wrong! (if you make a V folded fingers facing you) that is an insult in UK, it goes back to when long bowman would show the V back of the hand facing the enemy (French & Normans etc) if a Englishmen bowman was cough they would cut 1 of the 2 tips of his finger off
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Old 15 Jan 2012
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If you are going through Malaysia do not use your finger to point at anything, especially people. Use your thumb...........apparently. Unless my Malaysian collegue is winding me up.

Steve
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Old 15 Jan 2012
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Apparently, pointing in Estonia is rude: not that it stops the locals doing it one jot...

Conversely, over here if people want to indicate the number "2", they will use the infamous "V" sign and think nothing of it: brits, don't be offended, unless it's the middle finger!!

If you want to indicate using your limbs, do so with an open-palmed hand: same shape you'd use for a hi-5!
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Old 15 Jan 2012
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Selous... I think what you're saying is consistent with the information in the article... "However, if the outside of your hand is facing your target, you’re giving somebody a long-established insult in Great Britain".

I've heard that Tamerlane used to cut the thumbs off of enemy bowman since without them, they couldn't hold their bows. That seems pretty effective. To heck with their fingertips. Off with their thumbs!
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Old 15 Jan 2012
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I'm not sure about that whole "finger-tip cutting" thing, TBH.

From what I read about the middle ages, I think they just ran you through with a pike, if they caught you!
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Old 15 Jan 2012
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A bit like:

Monty Python, The Fish Slapping Dance - YouTube

??
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