The world is getting smaller as travel to other countries becomes easier and faster. People from different nations find common grounds through social networking and cultural exchanges. Communication in almost all forms is available in most countries. And however miniscule the help of free online language translators give, these are oftentimes enough for simple conversations among people who speak different languages.
But there is still a language that people cannot hear, a language that is more powerful, the silent language of gestures that could be common to most people of one culture but may be interpreted differently by people from another culture. Just be aware that some commonplace gestures in your country could be misinterpreted by people from another country and it will do you good to learn of a few of these.
The Okay Sign
The okay sign is quite commonly used and accepted. However, when you are in Germany, Brazil, Turkey and Greece, beware because this sign for them is quite vulgar. Giving them that okay sign tells them that they resemble the hole in your bottom and as such is a homosexual. In Kuwait, that simple sign is interpreted as you giving them the evil eye.
Wherever you go, it is best to be safe and avoid pointing your finger (usually the index) finger at something or someone. The best thing to do is to point with an open hand, with the fingers close together.
Eating with the hands
There are times when it is easier to eat something with your hands. If you are in India or in any Muslim country, be mindful not use your left hand for eating because it is considered dirty. And avoid using your left hand when talking and gesturing or when shaking hands in these parts of the world. In Senegal, a wrist or the left hand would be offered in a handshake when the person’s right hand is dirty or wet.
So next time you are in another country be aware, sensitive and observant so you’d understand other cultures better. As the globe shrinks through communication and travel, it is quite fitting that each person understands, learns and respects other cultures’ silent language.
By: Bernadine B. Racoma
Editor , Day Translations, Inc.
“The most accurate translations on the planet!”
- okay sign
- holding hands
- thumbs up