East to West – Hand Signals


I had read about Dutch culture before departing India for my work. It took few days to get used to their culture. Every person moving in a lift was wished by saying ‘Hello’, I sometime wonder if we had to say ‘Hello’ to everyone in India. We had perhaps done only that for the entire day. But it’s a novel way of meeting new and interesting foreigners. You’d also be stunned when you go to shake hands to say goodbye to an Italian or Colombians but, instead, you get a kiss on both cheeks.

As you talk with local Italians, they seem to stand in your space, continually grabbing you, talking over the top of you, yelling in fact, and sounding angry about everything. But these things are a normal part of everyday friendly Italian communication. Not all things in all cultures mean the same things.

There is a cultural differences in body language for each hand signals and we will see how many different meanings for each of them.


A. 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

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

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

D. Europe: Three Catholic countries: A blessing

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

F. Western countries: Four Japan: An insult

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

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

I. 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

J. Greece: Go to Hell!
The West: Two

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

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

M. Hawaii: ‘Hang loose’
Holland: Do you want a drink?

N. USA: I love you

O. The West: Ten; I surrender
Greece: Up Yours — twice!
Widespread: I’m telling the truth

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4 Responses to East to West – Hand Signals

  1. RAHUL R NAIR says:

    Thanx 4 d info…! Nd i cud c sm funny thins in dis… The symbol f ‘victory’ becms the symbol f “go to hell” whn the hands turn above…! He he..! 😀 Nd U missd one thing regarding the symbol ‘H’ ., in India it means ‘May i go to Toilet’ 😛 🙂

  2. This is so cool… and i get to know a lot of meanings… but regarding ‘I’, in north India(also north-east), and some eastern Asian countries, (including those singers from all over the world), uses the symbol or signal to indicate “cool, we’re cool” also.

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