Re: International gestures - help needed

From: Alain LaBont\i\ (
Date: Wed Jan 28 1998 - 09:12:53 EST

A 04:54 28/01/98 -0800, Winkler, Arnold F a écrit :
>This is an unusual request on these lists, but I know that some of you
>will have an answer to the following question:
>We are planning an advertisement that would show a person making the OK
>gesture (thumb and index finger in a circle with other 3 fingers
>straight). Could this be misconstrued as a vulgar gesture in some parts
>of the world?
>Is there a listing of what gestures are appropriate?
>Your input is very much appreciated.
>Thanks and regards
>Arnold F. Winkler - Standards Management
>Tel: 610-648-2055, (Unisys NET-385-2055)
>Fax: 610-695-5473
>E-mail :

[Alain] :
Oh! my God!

I'm not sure what you mean in your description but be extremely careful...
in particular with finger or hand gestures...

I've already seen some documentary movies on TV5 (international French TV)
on this a few years ago, but I don't have the exact reference... it was
astonishing. At some point you worry if you'd rather not do any gesture at
Most of what we do is insulting or impolite to a point we could not
imagine, at least somewhere in the world.

The reverse exists too. Many gestures which are obviously impolite or
childish in most of the Western world are very nice and hospitable in Asia,
for example. Let me quote but the most sympathetic of all. When I was on
vacation in Lhasa in 1987, a Tibetan monk was showing his tongue to us and
then smiling. All my companions (some British, some Québecer) believed he
was childishly laughing at us... Because in my childhood I had read "Tintin
au Tibet" (where captain Haddock had on this occasion a ferocious monkey's
behaviour, angry that he was against them!), I knew that this was a very
nice way of saluting us. So I did the same and I explained my companions,
who would not believe me at first sight... But they suddenly realized that
the Tibetan monks were fraternizing with me and they did the same. That
pleased the monks and everybody was happy.

Alain LaBonté

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