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How to understand Italian gestures without knowing the language: A short guide from a native of Rome
How to understand Italian gestures without knowing the language: A short guide from a native of Rome

It is believed that if Italians are forced to talk to each other without using gestures, they will not be able to understand each other. This is, of course, an exaggeration, but non-verbal cues in Italian culture are a huge part of communication. Italian Valentina Moretti in her video blog decided to tell more about Italian gestures.

What are you saying? What's going on?

The gesture that Russians like to portray Italians - fingers in a pinch, facing up - has very specific meanings. Something like this: "What are you talking about?", "What's going on?" and "What the hell ?!" Like other gestures, this one is necessarily accompanied by a grimace that emphasizes the meaning of the hand movement. It is not necessary to shake your hand at the same time, just swing it a couple of times. Although, of course, it all depends on the emotionality of the moment.

Inquiring gesture

You can ask the interlocutor if he has gone, for an hour, crazy. To do this, wave your raised palm in front of your face, placing it in relation to the face with an edge and tucking your thumb. The same question is indicated by the more familiar Russian gestures - tapping on the temple or twisting the index finger at the temple.

Doubt about the adequacy of the interlocutor

I don't care, I don't care

Where the Russian verbally finds a thousand synonyms for the rude folk expression “I don’t give a damn”, the Italian will make an expressive gesture - as if wiping away water droplets from the underside of the chin with his fingertips, the nail side. Valentina adds that this gesture, like most others, is far from sophisticated. In addition to this gesture, Italians, just like the Russians, signify their indifference with a shrug. The same gesture is suitable for a situation in which nothing can be done - just accept.

A gesture of indifference

Drink - eat

Unlike Russians, Italians don't have a drinking gesture. But a popular gesture is simply the process of drinking liquid, any (still - in a hot southern country!). Imagine that you have folded your fingers into a shape that in social networks means "like" - a fist with a thumb up, just not far from the rest of the fingers. Swing your fist a couple of times with your thumb pointing towards your face. Done, you asked the interlocutor to go for a drink or asked to give you water.

And the process of eating is indicated by the palm at the level of the abdomen. Turn your hand palm down, with the inner edge towards the upper abdomen, lower your thumb under the palm and swing it a couple of times, as if tapping yourself with the inner edge of the palm.

Just super

Italians have many ways to express their delight. One of them is common in meaning, it is known all over the world. It is necessary to kiss the tips of fingers collected with a pinch, and then raise your hand, while opening your palm. True, portraying a contented Italian, foreigners exclaim "bellissimo!" ("Great!"), And Valentina preferred the exclamation "al bacho!"

A kiss means everything is perfect

And if you want to compliment the food, you have to twirl your finger against your cheek. That's exactly how they twist when doubting the prudence of the interlocutor at the temple, but lower. And any Italian will understand that you are very tasty.

An Italian grandmother will be delighted if you twirl your finger against her cheek

Expressive pinch

Italians pinch their fingers together not only to present the interlocutor with uncomfortable questions or to kiss the fingers, expressing delight.If the Italian raised his hand with a pinch of his fingertips up and with a malicious smile quickly squeezed and unclenched the tips of his fingers a couple of times, then he hints that his interlocutor is cowardly and cowardly. In a way, this is an analogue of the Russian exclamation “weak?”.

But if the pinch was squeezed with a sharp movement only once, the gesture means "many people" - usually this is the answer to the corresponding question. But if you twist it with a pinch, without unclenching, then the meaning will be the opposite - "I am alone, I was left alone." And sometimes - "remained like a fool." "With these gestures - it's tough!" - comments on the external similarity of the different messages of Moretti.

Yes, full

When an Italian wants to answer: “A lot! Enough with a slide! Thousands and millions!”, He raises his bent arm at the elbow and waves his palm in the air so that it makes a couple of circles. But, if we add to the gesture an ironic sound that looks like "Y" and "Yo" at once, the meaning changes to the opposite, and the intonation - to sarcastic. "Well, yes, of course, thousands" - something like this.

Use your palm to describe a circle in the air to say that there is a lot of something


If the Russians rub the tips of the index and middle fingers folded together with their thumb, denoting money, the Italians rub the side of the bent index finger with their thumb. The difference is small - the gesture is not difficult to recognize.

Money loves the bill


The Italians have at least two gestures to offer to leave or to finally budge. The first is similar to an obscene Russian gesture that denotes sexual intercourse: a couple of slaps with the palm of the hand on the butt of the fist. Only the Italians do not clench their fist, they only clench their thumb.

An offer to leave here

The second variant of the gesture is waving a bent palm in front of you. Not at all as sweeping as a similar gesture among the Russians.

Let's go to!

Superiority gesture

Russians often use a rude gesture of superiority - they slap the palm of one hand near the crook of the other, while the clenched fist of the other is raised. The Italians have a very similar gesture (and is also considered rude), but raising a fist is not necessary - the hand with it bends so that the fist is approximately in front of the chest. In the same way, the interlocutor is offered to go on a long journey on foot - as in Russia. They also express in this way a sharp, decisive, categorical refusal to do something.

In Italy, this gesture is called the umbrella gesture, because an umbrella is hung with a similar movement on the bend of the hand

I’ll give you something

The Italians' gestural counterpart to this phrase is quite simple to execute. Make "pistols" with your hands and, as if waving them in front of the interlocutor, directing the barrels (index fingers) almost at each other, but slightly down. Done, you just made a rude threat to a person.

This gesture can also be used by mothers of teenagers, warning about the consequences of disobedience

Well, you said nonsense

Click your tongue against the front gums while waving your hand up. Of course, if you want to offend the interlocutor with the statement that he is talking nonsense.

Not the best behavior

Fold your palms in front of you so that your fingers are firmly pressed together, and those parts of the hand that are closer to the wrist diverge, swing a little forward and down a couple of times and give your face a surprised and judgmental expression. Thus, you can condemn someone else's inappropriate behavior.

How can you do that?

Someone gave someone horns

The gesture that is shown at concerts of rock and metal bands has its own meaning in Italian. Make horns from your index finger and little finger and swing the structure in the air. Thus, it is hinted that someone's horns have grown from betrayal of a wife or husband. A similar gesture is used in situations where the Russian spits so as not to jinx it - only the horns are then turned forward.


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