One gesture travelers become very used to when traveling in Southeast Asia is the rotate-the-open-hand-side-to-side that, back at home, would say, “I wasn’t that much of a fan of his new girlfriend,” or “That sushi joint I used my Groupon coupon at was not very good.” However, in Southeast Asia, the gesture means, “No thank you street vendor, I am not interested in a photocopied version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” or “I do like your assortment of knock-off sunglasses, but I don’t want to buy any today.”
But if you really want to fit in around the world, you should be sure to bone up on the various F.U. gestures around the world. Not so much to easily anger those around you, but just in case you find yourself walking down the street in, oh, let’s say southern Italy, with a couple of friends visiting you during your semester abroad and a group of Vespi-driving lunkheads start making their own suggestive gestures to you and your sorority sisters. Knowing how to properly gesture “Go jump off a cliff,” will not only impress those around you, but will also quickly send a message to them that you’re not one to mess with.
With that in mind, the UK Telegraph has this handy guide to rude gestures around the world, about half of which, not surprisingly given anyone who has spent anytime with Italians, are from Italy. This includes the “pepper mill,” a hand gesture implying that someone is crazy, as well as the “Go Longhorns” or “Black Sabbath Rules!”, a bullhorn finger gesture that actually means your wife is unfaithful.
Once you’ve mastered these, feel free to move on to basic vocabulary words and phrases.
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