Off topic: Interpreting gestures
Thread poster: Jack Doughty

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:57
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Jan 4, 2007

The Daily Telegraph has an article on how to interpret and use French gestures.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/04/wfrench04.xml
Are there any other gestures which interpreters should know, in French or any other language?


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Angeliki Papadopoulou  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 22:57
Member (2006)
English to Greek
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Excessively diverting! Jan 4, 2007

How interesting to see that people have actually taken the trouble to compile a list of... French gestures and how to interpret them!

I was "excessively diverted"! I am now waiting for the book on Greek gestures - that should be amusing too.

Regards,
Lina


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shfranke  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:57
English to Arabic
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Get Desmond Morris' book "Gestures" Jan 4, 2007

Greetings.

One useful and illustrated guide to many gestures commonly used in Europe, the Mediterranean area, and other regions is the classic by the zoologist Desmond Morris entitled "Gestures"

Published in 1980, it is available on < www.amazon.com >.

A few articles (appearing later than Morris' book) exist in the English and Arabic languages on Arab gestures, kinesics and proxemics.

An excellent book in the English also exists on nonverbal communications and gestures used by Gulf Arabs during typical social interactions and gatherings (the author did her research in Abu Dhabi, UAE). Published in the late 1980s by AUB Press in Beirut.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Stephen H. Franke
Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
(Conducting field research on similar original and derivative/transplanted gestures and utterances)

[Edited at 2007-01-04 13:01]


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:57
Spanish to English
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French gestures Jan 4, 2007

When I was a student in the 1980s, one of our French text books included an entire page of French gestures and facial expressions. A teacher explained others as well. So apparently this is a well worn topic.

The only example I remember: We were taught that when French people give directions on how to get someplace, they usually point with their chin rather than their hands. Not sure if that's true or not.


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Barbara Wiegel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:57
English to German
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Venezuelans, apparently, too... Jan 5, 2007

Steven Capsuto wrote:

The only example I remember: We were taught that when French people give directions on how to get someplace, they usually point with their chin rather than their hands. Not sure if that's true or not.


Hi,

my Spanish teacher (a Spanish lady who grew up in Venezuela) told us that the Venezuelans give directions in a similar way: pointing with your chin (and, of course, moving the head in the process) and simultaneously puckering your lips, pointing with them in the same direction - as if you are giving an air kiss into that direction. She demonstrated this and it looked, at least to us Germans, very funny indeed.
But it's useful to know this kind of cultural differences - imagine finding yourself in Venezuela, in need of directions from a local who gives them to you in a way he/she is used to and you thinking he/she wants to kiss you or, worse, he/she has a nervous tic or something???

Best,
Barbara


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Veronica Coquard
France
Local time: 21:57
French to English
Bof Jan 11, 2007

Jack Doughty wrote:

The Daily Telegraph has an article on how to interpret and use French gestures.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/04/wfrench04.xml
Are there any other gestures which interpreters should know, in French or any other language?


Hi Jack!

Indeed, the French (and the Italians) speak volumes in gestures. I used to guide groups of English people around the French countryside, and to kill time on the bus I would teach them a few gestures and we would have fun making up silly phrases in "French sign language."

A few favorites that come to mind:
"Drunk": An invisible extention to the nose is grabbed and twisted.
"That's harsh / I can't believe it / Wow, that's spicy, etc.": The hand is turned inward and shaken while the eyes pop out and the mouth is slightly agape.
"You're lying": The index finger pulls down the skin under the eye.
"It's cold / I'm afraid or nervous": The hand is turned upward and the fingers clap together. This gesture, I realised some time ago, is meant to show the movement of the - how should I put it? - bottom in cold weather, or when one is afraid or nervous.
"Drink (let's have one)": The thumb protrudes and the hand becomes a bottle which can be poured.
"Let's get out of here" (mentioned in the article but the movement is not clear): the left hand is held rigid while the right hand taps it.
"Let's eat": The hand is cupped and the fingers are brought to the mouth several times at close range.
"Shut up": The hand is opened wide then snapped shut.

Although these are anecdotal, it is also important to take note of differences in hand gestures between cultures. For example, to indicate "one" we Americans use the index, while the French use the thumb. To say "two," we make a "peace" sign (which in some cultures is very vulgar - turn the hand around and you'll have the Brits blushing), while the French use the thumb and index.

Great fun!



[Edited at 2007-01-11 16:36]


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