Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hand Gestures

It seems Arabs tend to use their hands extensively when they communicate. Some of the emotions indicated by these hand movements are listed below:

The end of your thumb and the end of your first finger touch and make a circle. The other three fingers are held out straight. The hand is then moved towards the head from the elbow.

Calm down, be patient, slower
Hold your right hand out, palm facing upwards. Bring your thumb and the tips of your fingers together, so they are above your palm, then move your hand up and down.

Come here
Hold your right hand out with your palm facing down, then move your fingers back and forth.

Give it to me
Hold your right hand out palm upwards, then close your hand halfway.

Go away
Hold your right hand out palm downwards, and move your fingers as if brushing something away from you.

Greeting someone with respect or sincerity
After shaking hands, place your right hand over your heart or chest. In addition you may kiss their forehead.

No never
Hold your right forefinger up and move it quickly from left to right several times (like a windscreen wiper).

Quieten down
Holding your right hand out, palm downwards and move it up and down slowly.

Why? What?
Holding your right hand out palm downwards, then quickly twist your hand to show your palm. forefingers point forward, whilst fingers 2, 3 and 4 should be slightly bent.

Hold your palm upwards and open all your fingers. Now turn your hand clockwise and then back anti-clockwise. The thumb should be slightly bent and sitting over the palm.

Very good, I’m winning
Make a fist with your right hand, whilst keeping your thumb extended upwards.

Holding Hands in Public
Arab men do hold hands with each other in public, whereas women in general don't. Occasionally you’ll see an Arab couple (man and woman) walking in the street and holding hands, but it is only occasionally. Public displays of affection are definately frowned upon and should be kept for the home.

Urban Legend
One of my students was shocked when I told him English men never held hands with each other. “But why ever not?” he asked.
I explained it would be considered un-masculine, but he wasn’t convinced,
“But what, even if they only hold hands for a minute?”
“Definitively not.” I replied.
“Umm” and then he thought some.
“But why? What are they doing wrong? They’re just being friends, that’s what friends do.”

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