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  1. Jiwon Seo
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    Jiwon Seo New Member

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    A Gesture may Embarrass you

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Jiwon Seo, Jul 9, 2008.

    A chairperson made a great contraction with a Saudi Arabian businessman. He bowed at a 90° angle. However the Saudi Arabian got very angry about that and he said, "Are you asking me to change my religion?" What happened to them? Is it rude to bow with a 90° angle to the businessman? To communicate, mostly we use language, but sometimes we use a different way of talking - body language or gestures. Gestures express your attitudes or intentions. This is done very unconsciously and reflects cultural aspects, so this can lead to misunderstanding when you use this without consideration. Let's find out about some gestures which are perceived differently in different cultures.

    Same Gestures, Different Meanings
    What do you think of the person who keeps touching his or her ear? In Scotland, if they see someone who is touching their ear during the conversation, they think they don't believe the speaker. In Brazil, that means 'I understand.' However in Italy, touching man's ear means that you're considering him as a gay or a woman!
    Usually we make 'ok' sign with our thumb and forefinger. As you know, it commonly means "It's ok." or "It's all right." If you do that in Russia or South America, you're saying "Ass hole" to them and they are going to kill you! Interestingly in France, it means 'no value.' Sometimes you use this gesture to express money in Korea.


    Same Meaning, Different Gestures.
    Everyone in the world greets each other, so they have different kinds of greeting. In Latin America and many European countries, they like to kiss and hug each other. Maoris in New Zealand are rubbing their noses to greet. Eskimos, however, they hit each other's cheek slightly when they are greeting. The most interesting thing is that the Mongolians hug each other and smell them - that's the greeting!
    As many people know, Western countries especially Ireland cross their fingers to say "Good luck." Differently, Spanish are touching an unpainted wood or they knock on wood for three times to say "Good luck." In Poland, they hold their thumbs for good luck.

    Common Gestures
    Common gestures are gestures that people mostly understand the meaning of gestures whatever the situation or the culture is. It is important to know because they can be used instead of language in some situations. The most common thing is that when you nod your head, it means 'yes' and when you shake, it means 'no.' Also, if you see someone put his/her index finger on their mouth, you know, the person is saying 'Please be quiet.' If you want to say that you are not sure, or you don't understand something, then you can shrug your shoulder - that means 'I don't understand, or I'm not sure.'

    As I mentioned above, gestures reflect the cultural aspects which are deeply existed. That kind of factor is hard to be aware of so misunderstanding between different culture is frequent. Sometimes, you might be aggressive and frustrated when you meet these kinds of differences. If you feel that, they will recognize this hostility and try to avoid you. Everyday and every moment, or in the future, we meet lots of different people from different countries. You must be careful when you have conversations with people of other cultures. Knowing gestures' different meanings can help people to decrease problems. Tolerance and understanding is the best way to learn about the other cultures.
     
  2. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    This was pretty interesting. (And alarming! Glad I don't travel much! :D )

    In one of my stories a character throws a blanket over another character's shoulders to warm him up, and he reacts by giving it back in embarrassment. She later learns she was inadvertently asking him to marry her. *LOL*
     
  3. Michael Davis
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    Michael Davis Member

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    In the military they used to have (and I assume they still do) a class they sent their officers to before deploying overseas to prevent such unintentional gestures. I think it was referred to as "Fork and knife" school. It was amazing some of the things we do in this country as routine that tick off foreigners.
     
  4. Marloy
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    Marloy Contributing Member

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    This was very interesting, I didn't know some of that, especially the thing about holding your thumb up in Russia and South America, I'll have to think twice before doing that to tell them they did a good job.. or something.

    Anyway, very interesting! :D
     
  5. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Holding your thumb up is also bad in India. If I ever go to any of those countries I'll be in trouble. I give the thumbs up all the time.
    Putting your index finger and thumb together in the shape of a circle which means "ok" in North America, is considered a--hole in Greece and will get you into a fight.

    Sticking your tongue out is rude in most or all Western countries. But in China girls in their early twenties and younger, do it all the time when they are embarrassed or thinking hard. And its the entire tongue not just the tip of it.
     
  6. The Freshmaker
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    The Freshmaker <insert obscure pop culture reference> Contributor

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    Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This class was offered when I was in the Air Force during the 80's and 90's. I was a linguist, so contact with foreign dignitaries was a common enough thing for those in my career field.
     

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