24 August, 2011

Cultural Differences in Body Language

Imagine this scene - you are inspecting a house with the possibility of purchasing it and you open a bathroom door to see a woman sitting naked in a bathtub.

How would you expect the surprised woman to react?

A British or American woman would cover her breasts with one hand and her genitals with the other, while a Swedish woman would cover only her genitals. A Muslim woman would cover her face, a Sumatran woman would cover her knees and a Samoan only her navel.

If a Saudi man holds another man's hand in public, it's a sign of mutual respect. But don't do it in Australia, Texas, Liverpool in England or even here in the Philippines. =)

Now, try this — hold up your main hand to display the number five. Now change it to the number two.

Europeans start counting with the number one on the thumb, two on the index finger, three on the middle finger, and so on. Anglo-Saxons count number one on the index finger, two on the middle finger and finish with five on the thumb.

Here are some hand signals and see how many different meanings you can assign to each one. The answers are listed at the bottom of the picture.

Europe and North America: OK
Mediterranean region, Russia, Brazil, Turkey: An orifice signal; sexual insult; gay man
Tunisia, France, Belgium: Zero; worthless
Japan: Money; coins

Western countries: One; Excuse me!; As God is my witness; No! (to children)

Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Malta: Up yours!
USA: Two
Germany: Victory
France: Peace
Ancient Rome: Julius Caesar ordering five beers

Europe: Three
Catholic countries: A blessing

Europe: Two
Britain, Australia, New Zealand: One
USA: Waiter!
Japan: An insult

Western countries: Four
Japan: An insult

Western countries: Number 5
Everywhere: Stop!
Greece and Turkey: Go to hell!

Mediterranean: Small penis
Bali: Bad
Japan: Woman
South America: Thin
France: You can't fool me!

Mediterranean: Your wife is being unfaithful
Malta and Italy: Protection against the Evil Eye (when pointed)
South America: Protection against bad luck (when rotated)
USA: Texas University Logo, Texas Longhorn Football Team

Greece: Go to Hell!
The West: Two

Ancient Rome: Up yours!
USA: Sit on this! Screw you!

Europe: One
Australia: Sit on this! (upward jerk)
Widespread: Hitchhike; Good; OK
Greece: Up yours! (thrust forward)
Japan: Man; five

Hawaii: 'Hang loose'
Holland: Do you want a drink?

USA: I love you

The West: Ten; I surrender
Greece: Up Yours -- twice!
Widespread: I'm telling the truth

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