How to interpret body language?
Thread poster: Peter Nicholson

Peter Nicholson  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:01
Polish to English
Apr 6, 2016

Can anyone point me to information which might help me interpret the distinctive body language seen in this brief video?

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Irene McClure
Local time: 03:01
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
Context Apr 6, 2016

Hi Peter - it's a bit of a strange request, given that the tiny snippet we can see on your link is out of any context.

From the clip, all I can say is that what appears to be some kind of businessman is tapping the table to emphasise the point he is making, but because we can't even hear an entire sentence, it is difficult to say more than this. I wouldn't say it was particularly 'distinctive' body language, just a means of stressing a particular point he wants to make.

I'm sure there are lots of online resources on interpreting body language in different cultures and settings - here are just a few relating to business and English (UK and US):

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/body-language-and-business-etiquette.html

http://www.sideroad.com/Business_Etiquette/business-body-language.html

http://www.ediplomat.com/np/cultural_etiquette/ce_us.htm

Hopefully your broader grasp of the context will help you make sense of your particular example.

Irene


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Ana Cravidao
Local time: 02:01
Member (2012)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Hand chop gesture Apr 6, 2016

I believe this is called the 'hand chop' gesture. You can find its meaning in this text: http://www.nicolasfradet.com/hand-body-language/

On a lighter note, there is a video on body language which I find most interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1zTmx6FsCg

Good luck with your work.
Ana


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:01
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Palm of the hand up Apr 6, 2016

I've found articles online about body language which say that a gesture with the palm of the hand up - showing the palm - indicates submissiveness or openness to a suggestion or discussion, rather than hostility or aggressiveness.
However, your clip is so tiny and we have no context at all, so who knows what was going on?


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:01
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Looks Apr 6, 2016

Peter Nicholson wrote:

Can anyone point me to information which might help me interpret the distinctive body language seen in this brief video?


To me it looks like a trained hand gesture, of the kind that's popular with politicians etc.

There are private companies that will train people how to do this.

Here's an expert's analysis of a speech by UK Prime Minister David Cameron (fast forward to 12:26 for the "gestures" part: "the magic political fist with the thumb showing!").

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnxyQhSHFPs

What's clear from your own video is that the gesture it shows is not natural or spontaneous. To me, it seems like a "designed" gesture made by someone who has been schooled in "how to make a point".

Here's a much longer documentary on the topic of body language:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kY1K_IefjSA

"93% of what we communicate is non-verbal".

[Edited at 2016-04-06 12:23 GMT]


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:01
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Impossible task Apr 6, 2016

Just as you can't reliably tell the meaning of an individual word, without context, in a verbal language, you can't reliably attach one single meaning to one single gesture in body language. Context is of the essence.

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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 07:31
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Desmond Morris Apr 6, 2016

I would recommend two books by Desmond Morris to help you read human gestures - Naked Ape and Man-Watching.

They won't help you with this video, but would help you to generally understand human gestues across cultures.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:01
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Ape Apr 6, 2016

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

I would recommend two books by Desmond Morris to help you read human gestures - Naked Ape and Man-Watching.

They won't help you with this video, but would help you to generally understand human gestues across cultures.


Is there one on woman-watching?



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Dénis Wettmann  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 03:01
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
Nothing to interpret Apr 6, 2016

Peter Nicholson wrote:

Can anyone point me to information which might help me interpret the distinctive body language seen in this brief video?


Even if you had context, you would not be able to decode any meaningful information from body language.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:01
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Unless Apr 6, 2016

Dénis Wettmann wrote:

Peter Nicholson wrote:

Can anyone point me to information which might help me interpret the distinctive body language seen in this brief video?


Even if you had context, you would not be able to decode any meaningful information from body language.


- unless it's sign language. Last evening I enjoyed watching a man and a woman, both using sign language, have an intense conversation sitting on opposite sides of a crowded train carriage.

[Edited at 2016-04-06 15:02 GMT]


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Dénis Wettmann  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 03:01
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
Me and my generalizations. 😂 Apr 6, 2016

Tom in London wrote:

Dénis Wettmann wrote:

Peter Nicholson wrote:

Can anyone point me to information which might help me interpret the distinctive body language seen in this brief video?


Even if you had context, you would not be able to decode any meaningful information from body language.


- unless it's sign language. Last evening I enjoyed watching a man and a woman, both using sign language, have an intense conversation sitting on opposite sides of a crowded train carriage.

[Edited at 2016-04-06 15:02 GMT]


Sir, you are absolutely correct. 😄


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