Non-Italian Hand Gestures

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by Nan Swift, Improbable Research staff

Non-Italian hand gestures fascinate scholars, who labor to classify the gestures and grasp their meanings. Here is a very partial compendium of studies of non-Italian hand gestures, or, in two cases, of patents relating thereto.

Russian Hand Gestures
A Dictionary of Russian Gesture, B. Monahan, 1983, Hermitage, Ann Arbor, MI.

Hispano-American Hand Gestures
Diccionario de Gestos: España e Hispanoamérica (2 vols.), Giovanni Meo-Zilio and Silvia Mejía, Instituto Caro y Cuervo, Bogotá, 1980--83.

Catalan Hand Gestures
"Assaig de Dialectologia Gestual. Aproximació Pragmàtica al Repertori Bàsic D'emblemes del Català de Barcelona," Lluis Payrató, Ph.D. thesis, Universitat de Barcelona, 1989.

Catalan gestures, from the doctoral thesis "Assaig de Dialectologia Gestual. Aproximació Pragmàtica al Repertori Bàsic D'emblemes del Català de Barcelona."

Brazillian Thumb Gestures
"The Brazilian Thumbs-Up Gesture," Joel Sherzer, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, vol. 1, no. 2, 1991, pp. 189--97

Australian Thumb Gesture
"'Thumbs-up Is a Rude Gesture in Australia': The Presentation of Culture in International Business Textbooks," Frank B. Tipton, Critical Perspectives on International Business, vol. 4, no. 1, 2008, pp. 7--24.

Peculiar Finger Gestures with Particular Significance
"Beschämung, Lob, und Schadenfreude---Hand- und Fingergebärden Mit Bestimmter Bedeutung" [Shame, Praise, and Malicious Joy---Hand and Finger Gestures with Particular Significance], Arnold Niederer, Schweizerisches Archiv für Volkskunde, vol. 85, nos. 1--2, 1989, pp. 201--17.

Details from the study "Beschämung, Lob, und Schadenfreude--- Hand- und Fingergebärden mit bestimmter Bedeutung."

Artificial Hand, for German Gesturing
"Artificial Hand for Use by Motorcycle Drivers in Greeting, Has Anatomical Characteristics of Human Hand, and Reports Signals Through Finger Position or Gestures," German patent DE202005012371, issued to Achim Necker, December 15, 2005.

A Seat Cushion for a Hand Gesture
"Combined Tomahawk Shaped Seat Cushion and Hand Mitt for Chop Gesturing," U.S. patent D368822, issued to Gerald W. Gibre, April 16, 1996. The document explains

The ornamental design for a combined tomahawk shaped seat cushion and hand mitt for chop gesturing... FIG. 7 is a perspective view of "the combined tomahawk shaped seat cushion and hand mitt for chop gesturing, shown in use as a hand mitt, wherein the broken line showing of a hand is for illustrative purposes only and forms no part of the claimed design.

Detail from patent "Combined Tomahawk Shaped Seat Cushion and Hand Mitt for Chop Gesturing."

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This article is republished with permission from the July-August 2013 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues.

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