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The Big V

Posted by Lotg on September 25, 2004

In Reply to: Please don't be rude posted by Miss Manners on September 25, 2004

: : : : I was reading a book on doing in business in countries other than the US and one chapter focused on Europe. They mentioned that some gestures were considered rude or vulgar, but gave no what the gestures meant or any explanation as to why they were considered offensive.

: : : : According to the book, in France it is considered vulgar to snap the fingers on both hands at the same time or to slap an open palm into your fist. These sound sexual, but that could just be me.

: : : : In Germany, it is considered impolite to talk to a person with your hands in your pockets and to sit with the bottom of your shoes facing the person to whom you are speaking and that you should not point at your head. Any ideas?

: : : the feet are taboo in a number of places (Personally, I just think they are ugly) and it is considered rude to display the soles of your feet or your shoes. I think this is because in pre-pavement and tarmac days they would be dirty. I think it is simply the dirt factor that makes displaying feet rude. I find feet entirely unappealing even if somewhat practical.

: : : there are lots of rude gestures available, although I do not know the precise meaning of the Italian one in which one flicks the teeth with one's thumb - that looks fairly expressive!
: : : making a fist and slapping the forearm is a fairly widespread "fk off!" gesture.
: : : simulated masturbation gestures are common.

: : : the Poles/Russians have a few rude gestures - flicking the neck and suchlike.

: : : In England, putting your hand down your trousers and scratching either scrotum or anus is considered rude.

: : Is it? That's where I have been going wrong!

: : DFG

: Please don't be rude and crude. There's no need for it. School children come here often. And beyond that, many of the adults who post here don't care for that kind of low "humor."

Care should definitely be taken when using hand gestures in foreign countries. An American president (can't remember which one), once visiting Australia, put his fingers up in the sign of a V. He no doubt intended it to be a 'victory' sign, but in this country he had his hand facing the wrong way. The sign of the 'v' with your palm facing outwards is indeed 'victory' here, but with your palm facing towards yourself (as this president did), it means 'up yours'.

His unfortunate mistake created considerable amusement and of course, many cartoon opportunities. A U.S. president saying 'up yours' to Australia - well let's say no-one was very surprised.