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World of Gestures

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1) Gestures create the potential for strong cultural conflicts and misunderstandings. Many gestures have one meaning in one culture and a completely different meaning in another culture.

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” Identify 3 U.S. gestures that have a different meaning in another culture. Describe the gesture, give the American meaning, state the other culture it is used in, and the meaning in that culture.

2)The Globe

Please check to see if the Image(s) you are being asked to review has a title. If there is a title, then I expect you to click on the title and read the corresponding document about the image and phrase your answer in a way that demonstrates your comprehension of this document as it relates to the theory in the text.

Go to The Globe. Locate the Country of Vietnam (in Asia). Take a look at the photographs. The text discusses Appearance and Attire as a category of nonverbal communication. One of the items listed in this category is clothing.

· What is the traditional dress of Vietnam? Explain briefly what the link says about it.


The school day ended. Tired, Miss Larson took her classroom problems home with her and shared her concerns with friends at an informal cocktail party and her frustration over teaching English in the Ethiopian government school. “For three years, I’ve tired to get those dear little girls to behave like normal human beings, to have some pride, to hold up their heads, look me in the face, and answer a question in a voice I can hear without straining. They’re so bright; they learn as fast as the children back home, but they’re hopeless, absolutely hopeless. They just can’t seem to learn to behave with human dignity. For all the good I’ve done here, I might as well have stayed home in Iowa and taught there.”

The school day ended. Kebedetch walked swiftly home. She felt brave. Entering the gojo (small house or hut), Kebedetch was greeted warmly. Father asked the usual, daily question: “What did you learn today?” Kebedetch threw back her head, looked her father in the eye, and proclaimed in a loud, clear voice, “Ethiopia is composed of twelve provinces plus the Federated State of Eritrea&”

Momma and Poppa talked late that night about what had happened to Kebedetch. She was no longer behaving as a normal human being.

“Did you notice that she threw back her head like a man?” asked Poppa, “What has happened to her shyness, which is the best quality she could have as a woman?”

“And her voice,” added Momma, “How happy I am that our parents were not present to hear a daughter of ours speak with the voice of a foreigner.”

She showed no modesty. If she were normal, she would be ashamed to raise her head like that, being a girl-child, and to speak so loud as that,” Poppa added.

“Kebedetch has learned so much, “said Momma, “She knows more than I, and this has given me great joy. But if her learning’s are making her a strange, ungentle, beastlike person, I do not want her to learn more; she is my only daughter.”

Poppa pondered. Finally he shook his head and spoke. “You are right, Mebrat, our daughter must not return to school. The new education is not good, but only the strongest can survive. I had hoped Kebedetch could learn and remain normal and gentle; she would become a woman of dignity. The frightening behavior of hers tonight has convinced me. She has lost her sense of pride, lost her sense of shame, lost her dignity. She must never return to the school. We shall try to help her find herself again.”

” What are the specific nonverbal behaviors of Kebedetch to which her parents are objecting?

” What meanings are ascribed to these behaviors by Miss Larson?


use link for question number 2

Gestures from Around the World

Body gestures have different meanings according to the country in which they are expressed.  An identical gesture may have one meaning in one culture and a completely different meaning in another culture.  In addition, a gesture that has no meaning in one culture (and is just done as a reflux) may actual convey meaning in another culture.  It is imperative that you be aware of what message you are sending, nonverbally, as you interact with individuals from cultures different than your own.


  1. While dining, keep your hands on the table. Putting your hands on your lap during dining is seen as rude.
  2. To signal for a waiter in a restaurant, you should raise your hand with the index finger extended.
  3. To wish someone good luck, make two fists (with your thumbs tucked inside the fists), and make as a gesture like you are slightly pounding on a table.
  4. To specify the number “one”, use your upright thumb.
  5. While driving, a rude gesture in Austria would be to twist your finger in a motion toward your hand. This specifies that you think the other motorist is “crazy”!


  1. To point with your index finger is considered impolite.
  2. When you meet a good friend in Belgium, you would greet them with a kiss. This would be done by brushing your lips against the other person’s cheek three times in a row… one cheek, the other cheek, and then back again to the first cheek.
  3. When you are talking with someone, do not place your hand or hands in your pockets. This is considered rude.
  4. To slap someone on the back or to be noisy are both very rude gestures in Belgium.
  5. It is poor manners to put your feet on a table or chair. Also, do not try to yawn, blow your nose, sneeze, or scratch yourself in the presence of others. Using a toothpick is also frowned upon when you are with company.


  1. The handshake is the usual form of greeting people in Bulgaria.
  2. When dining, keep both your wrists on the table.
  3. To signal NO, nod your head up and down. To signal YES, shake your head back and forth. This is the opposite of the United States.
  4. To signal someone is crazy, take your forefinger and point it to your temple in a rotating motion.
  5. The signal for victory, is to make a V sign with your two fingers. This also signals the number “two” in Bulgaria.


  1. Always shake hands while in a formal or informal atmosphere. This applies to both your arrival and departure.
  2. To make a toast while dining is common, but please wait until your host begins.
  3. While dining, you signal that you are finished eating by placing your knife and fork side by side to one side of your plate. To signal you are just pausing, place your knife and fork in a criss-cross pattern on your plate.
  4. Try not to place your elbows on the table while dining.
  5. Never applaud while in a church, whether you are there for a wedding, concert, or other event.


  1. When meeting someone, a firm, brief handshake is common. Children will offer to shake your hand, and are taught to make direct eye contact with their host. Always shake a woman’s hand before the hand of the gentlemen in a group situation. Always stand to shake hands with another person if you are seated.
  2. While driving, it is considered rude to make the following gesture to another driver: point your index finger at your temple and rotate it back and forth.
  3. Formal dinner parties are commonplace in Denmark, thus dress appropriately. If you are a single man, you will most likely be presented with a card detailing the name of your female dining companion who will sit to your right. Upon being introduced to the woman, please escort her to the table at the appropriate time.
  4. To toast someone in Denmark, please wait for your host to begin. Then, before you sip your drink, look around at the rest of the group, or toast one person directly; then, sip your drink and once again make eye contact with your host.


  1. To signal a waiter in a restaurant for the bill, make a motion with both of your hands as if you were signing your name on a piece of paper.
  2. Loud talking and other forms of noisy behavior should always be avoided.
  3. Try not to stare at anyone in public. Privacy is highly regarded.
  4. To wait in line is to “queue up”. You must never “jump the queue” which would be to push your way into a line of other people.
  5. When drinking in a pub, pick up your change after you pay for your drink. If you leave it there, as you might in the United States, would imply that you are leaving a tip. Tipping is not extremely widespread in British pubs.
  6. An offensive gesture in England would be the V for victory sign done with your palm facing yourself.


  1. Emotions are not openly expressed in Finland, unless among close friends or relatives.
  2. When dining with the Finnish, do not begin to eat before your host does. Also, eat slowly because you are expected to eat everything on your plate.
  3. When you are dining in Finland, do not pass the salt hand to hand. This is considered bad luck. Instead, put the salt shaker down on the table and let the other person pick it up.
  4. Do not stand with your arms folded in Finland as this is considered a sign of arrogance.
  5. When yawning, always remember to cover your mouth.


  1. In France, a light, quick handshake is common. You shake hands frequently in France, particularly in situations on your arrival and departure every day. To offer a strong, pumping handshake would be considered uncultured. When you enter a room, be sure to greet each person present. A woman in France will offer her hand first.
  2. If on a business trip, be sure to carry of supply of business cards, as they are exchanged frequently.
  3. Some common gestures to be refrained from in public in France include: chewing gum, yawning, scratching, or having loud conversations. Also, do not rest your feet on a chair or table.
  4. Two vulgar gestures in France would be to snap the finger of both hands, or slap an open palm over a closed fist.
  5. When in a restaurant, you should signal a waiter by tipping your head slightly backward and saying Monsieur (“Sir”).
  6. When in Paris, you would signal a taxi by snapping your fingers.
  7. When dining, do not eat sandwiches with your fingers. Instead use a knife and fork.
  8. Fruit is peeled with a knife and eaten with a fork.


  1. It is impolite to shake someone’s hand with your other hand in your pocket. Children are often scolded for putting their hands in their pockets because this is seen as a sign of disrespect.
  2. Never open a closed door without knocking first.
  3. If you are in a group situation, and wish to express your thanks, clasp your hands together and raise them high above your head.
  4. If you are dining in a busy restaurant and there are empty seats at your table and no other tables available, then the host may seat other people at your table. This is a common practice in Germany, and you do not have an obligation to speak with the other person at your table, unless you feel inclined.
  5. If you are talking with someone, do not chew gum. This is considered very rude. To do so would remind a German person of “a cow chewing on a cud”.
  6. When a man and woman walk together, the man walks on the left side of the woman. This is due to the fact that Germans consider this a romantic gesture because one’s heart is on the left of side of the body. However, the man will walk on the side closet to traffic when the couple is on a busy street.
  7. To wave goodbye, raise your hand upward, with your palm out and wave your fingers up and down. Don’t waggle your hand back and forth, because this would symbolize the idea of “NO”.
  8. To signal the number “one”, hold your thumb upright.
  9. In various parts of Germany, if you arrive at a dinner table and you are unable to shake everyone’s hand due to the arrangement of the seating, the German guest will rap his knuckles lightly on the table to signal his greeting to everyone. This same gesture also applies to when the person leaves the table. Also, university students utilize this gesture in order to greet their professors in a classroom.


  1. To signal “NO”, slightly nod your head upward, or just lift your eyebrows upward. To signal “YES”, a Greek may tilt his head to either side.
  2. Greeks smile both when their happy and when they are upset or angry.
  3. If you compliment a Greek, he or she may make a puffing noise through pursed lips which is a traditional way to ward off the “evil eye”.
  4. The moutza is a gesture particular to Greece. It is done by waving your hand (palm out) and with your fingers spread. It looks as a pushing motion.
  5. Lines are not orderly in Greece, so don’t be surprised if there is pushing in Greece.
  6. The “OK” sign is a signal of body orifice, so do not use this gesture in Greece.
  7. To signal everything is fine, you may use the “thumbs-up” sign. However, do not use the “thumbs-down” sign as this would be seen as rude. This latter gesture may be used to signal your distaste for the crazy driving of someone on the road.
  8. When a Greek man sees a pretty girl, he may take his hand and stroke his chin with his finger. If the man is very rude, he would then either hiss or make a kissing motion with his lips at the girl.
  9. When you are dining in Greece, note that your dessert spoon is placed above your plate.
  10. Folk dancing is popular in Greece. If you participate in the dancing, this is seen as a sign of being friendly to and appreciative of the Greek culture.


  1. Hungarians are not overly demonstrative in public. Personal space while conversing is usually at arm’s length.
  2. To embrace someone in public in Hungary is uncommon. However, close friends may do so after not seeing each other for a long time. This gesture may then be followed by brushing your cheek against the other person’s cheek.
  3. When dining, keep both hands on the table.
  4. It is considered inappropriate to “chink” glasses in Hungary during a toast or otherwise.
  5. Men will walk to the left of the guest, or a woman while in public.


  1. When you meet someone in either the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland, a firm handshake is appreciated.
  2. Women are always seated first. The most appropriate way to sit is to cross your ankles or one knee over the other knee. To cross your ankle over your knee is considered informal.
  3. Perhaps the most offensive gesture in Ireland would be to refuse to buy a round of drinks in a pub when it’s your turn to buy.
  4. When waiting in a line, be respectful and never push or shove your way ahead.


  1. Italians are very demonstrative. When greeting each other, you may kiss each other’s cheeks, embrace warmly and offer a long handshake.
  2. When visiting a church in Italy, women should cover their heads. Also, you should not wear shorts or sleeveless blouses when touring a church.
  3. When dining, men should pour the wine, as it is considered unfeminine for a woman to pour wine. Also, do not drink too much wine during a meal because wine is seen almost as food, thus, over consumption is considered rude.

4.To signal that you don’t know or care about something in particular, simply shrug your shoulders.


  1. A unique gesture in Holland would be to suck one’s thumb to signal that someone is lying.
  2. To signal that someone is gay, you would pat the back of one hand with the fingers on the other hand.
  3. To signal that someone is cheap, you would rub your nose with your forefinger from the bridge in a downward motion.
  4. If you would like to signal that someone is crazy, you would tap the center of your forehead.
  5. It is considered rude to get up during a meal to go to the bathroom, or any other room.


  1. You should avoid speaking in a loud voice in Norway.
  2. If you are introduced to someone, always stand during the introduction.
  3. Handshakes in Norway are brief, but firm. Avoid putting your arm around someone else, or even patting them on the back.
  4. When toasting in Norway, make eye contact, raise your glass up to eye level, say “Skoal”, take a drink, make eye contact again, and then place the glass back down on the table.


  1. An older Polish gentleman may kiss the hand of a woman upon introduction, but don’t imitate this gesture. Women greet their close friends by embracing briefly and slightly kissing each other on the cheeks.
  2. Poles do not speak in loud voices. Avoid chewing gum when you are talking with someone.
  3. A Pole will invite you to a drink by flicking his finger against his neck. The drink is usually vodka, and this gesture is usually done among close friends.
  4. Poles are not overly demonstrative, so avoid casual body contact, unless you’re among close friends.


  1. To get someone’s attention, a Portuguese will extend their arm upward, palm out and wiggle the fingers up and down, as if they were patting someone on the head.
  2. To signal that everything’s OK, use the “thumbs up” sign, sometimes with both hands.
  3. A gesture in particular to Portugal is when you want to signal that you have enjoyed your dinner and want to compliment the hostess, you would simply kiss the side of your index finger at the end of the meal.
  4. The chin flick gesture in Portugal is done by brushing your fingers (palm inward) off the bottom of your chin and away from your face. This signals that “I don’t know”. To do the same gesture, but using you’re thumb would mean that something no longer exists, or someone has died.


  1. Men rise when they are introduced to a woman.
  2. Business cards are exchanged often, so bring a large supply with you.
  3. When visiting a Greek Orthodox Church, women should dress modestly with their arms covered. Skirts should be worn instead of slacks.
  4. When dining in Romania, several toasts will be held. The Romanians eat with the fork in their left hand, and keep the napkin next to the plate, rather than on their lap.


  1. Upon meeting someone in Sweden, offer a firm handshake and retain good eye contact.
  2. When in public, a Swedish man will tip his hat to a woman, and take his hat off while conversing with the woman.
  3. When dining, the male guest of honor sits to the left of the hostess and the female guest of honor sits to the right of the host.
  4. When leaving a Swedes home, do not put your coat on until you get to the doorway or actually step outside. If you do so beforehand, this is seen as a rude sign of your anxiety to leave early.
  5. To toast in Sweden, you lift your glass, make contact with everyone around the table, and say Skoal. Then, you take drink, make eye contact again and put your drink back down on the table. The host always makes the first toast.


  1. Switzerland has a combination of French, Italian, and German nationalities, thus, the cultural mores and gestures of each of these countries influence Swiss society. However, you should offer a firm handshake to whomever you are introduced to, including children.
  2. Good posture is important in Switzerland. Do not slouch in your chair or stretch your legs out while sitting in public.
  3. Do not litter in Switzerland. The Swiss take great pride in the tidiness of their environment, thus to litter is considered rude.
  4. Never smoke while dining with the Swiss.
  5. The elderly are greatly respected in Switzerland, so be considerate by giving up your seat on a bus or train to an older person or help them with their luggage or parcels.
  6. Fondue is a popular Swiss dish. While dining, a chaffing dished is put in the middle of a table and it contains melted cheese or gravy and meat. Guests use long forks to dip pieces of bread into the cheese or gravy. Tradition says that if you drop your bread in the community fondue pot, then you must buy wine for everyone at the table. Another version of the tradition is that you must kiss all members of the opposite sex at the table.

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  1. It is extremely offensive to show the sole of your shoe to someone, or use your shoe to point at someone or something. This is due to the fact that the sole of the shoe is the lowest part of the body and something which is usually dirty and soiled.
  2. If you must smoke, please ask permission first. You should not either smoke or eat while on a public street.
  3. To signal NO, raise your head slightly, tip it backward, and close your eyes.
  4. A unique Turkish gesture to signal that something is good would be to hold your hand up, palm outward and slowly bring the fingers into the thumb, in a grasping motion.
  5. Female visitors to Turkey should avoid traveling without an escort.
  6. Before you take a photograph in Turkey, ask permission first. This is especially applicable to mosques and to individuals.
  7. The fig gesture is considered very rude in Turkey. This is done by clenching your hand into a fist and having your thumb protrude between the first two fingers.

 -Roger Axtel

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