Tuesday, 10 September 2013

British travellers at risk of misusing hand gestures while abroad

At i-interpret4u we know from our past research that at least one third of British travellers use hand gestures to try and communicate when holidaying abroad, which is why we were interested in the latest report conducted by Trip Advisor on the misuse of hand gestures abroad.

Most of us at one point or another might have innocently used a hand gesture abroad, only to receive a look of bafflement – or worse we might have caused a grave offence to a local?  In fact 60% of us apparently admit to doing this.  Even though some of us take time to do our research before we go abroad, most of us don’t and we might not even give this a second thought.

The survey asked almost 4,000 travellers to identify what certain hand gestures mean.  Over 80% of Brits surveyed were oblivious to the fact that the ‘sign of the horns’, widely adopted by rock music fans and formed by extending the index and little fingers while holding the middle and ring fingers down with the thumb, is in fact a highly offensive gesture in France, Italy and Spain.

On the other side of the coin, while almost three-quarters (72%) of Brits find an open hand with the palm facing out aggressive, dismissive and assertive, nearly a third (31%) of Italians think it is a friendly gesture and over a quarter of Spanish (27%) see it as calming!

The results showed that other Europeans may be unwittingly offending Brits with their hand gestures. One in ten respondents in France (11%), Italy (12%) and Spain (11%) did not recognise the two-fingered salute as an insulting gesture.

Interesting stuff and it makes you think twice when making hand gestures in countries where you aren’t sure of what it might mean.  You could find yourself in hot water!


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