guatemala-health-nutrition-programs

Gestures are tricky

Common hand gestures can mean very different things in different cultures. If you are unsure of the meaning, it is better not to “speak with your hands.”

Illustration #1: The sign of a circle made with the thumb and index finger means “okay” in the U.S. and Canada, "money" in Japan, "zero" in Russia and is an insult in Brazil.
 

Illustration #2: In Egypt this gesture means “be patient” and in Italy it stands for “what exactly do you mean?” and in Greece it means “that’s just perfect.” An Egyptian in Italy may very well be misunderstood, as might an Italian in Greece.


Imagine a Greek who is furiously ranting and raving about something. The Egyptian tells him to be patient but the Greek understands that’s just perfect. So the Egyptian continues his ranting while the Italian is still trying to figure out what he means.

 “Every country has its own way of saying things. The important thing is that which lies behind people’s words.” (Freya Stark, The Journey’s Echo)