Sunday, October 7, 2012

What's With "Thumbs Up" in Brazil? A Primer to Non-Verbal Communication

In case you were wondering why so many of the pictures on Kyle's blog have people giving the "Thumbs Up" gesture, I went to the internet to see if it has a secret meaning. Not so much. I did find that there are some gestures we use that might be best left in the United States.

Non-verbal communication

Brazilians use a lot of gestures in informal communication, and the meaning of certain words or expressions may be influenced by them.
  • The thumbs up gesture is used to mean everything's OK, yes or even thanks. Avoid using the OK hand gesture for these meanings, as it can be considered obscene. 
  • The Shaka gesture is common on the coast of Brazil, and is known as the "hang loose" sign.
  • Wagging your extended index finger back and forth and/or clicking your tongue behind your teeth two or three times means no
  • Using your index finger to pull down one of your lower eyelids means watch out.
  • Stroking your two biggest fingers with your thumb is a way of saying that something is expensive.
  • Snapping a few times means fast or a long time (ago).
  • Stroking your lips and then snapping means delicious; pinching your earlobe means the same in some regions.
  • Making a fist with your thumb between the index and middle finger, known as the figa, is a sign of good or bad luck depending on the region.
  • Touching the palm with the thumb and making a circular movement with the hand means I am being robbed/ripped off/ in some regions.
  • The hush gesture is considered extremely impolite, about the same as shouting "shut up!" to someone.
  • An informal way to get someone's attention, similar to a whistle, is a hissing sound: "pssiu!" It is not perceived as unpolite, but gets really annoying if repeated too often.

No comments:

Post a Comment