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Folklore: Automatic Gestures

meself 30 Nov 16 - 03:19 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 30 Nov 16 - 03:40 PM
meself 30 Nov 16 - 04:29 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 30 Nov 16 - 05:28 PM
Joe_F 30 Nov 16 - 05:52 PM
meself 30 Nov 16 - 06:01 PM
Joe Offer 30 Nov 16 - 06:01 PM
meself 30 Nov 16 - 06:45 PM
CupOfTea 30 Nov 16 - 07:27 PM
Rapparee 30 Nov 16 - 09:56 PM
meself 01 Dec 16 - 12:35 AM
Jim Dixon 01 Dec 16 - 12:41 AM
Thompson 01 Dec 16 - 01:39 AM
GUEST,ST 01 Dec 16 - 04:45 AM
Senoufou 01 Dec 16 - 07:20 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Dec 16 - 08:05 AM
GUEST,Senoufou 01 Dec 16 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,Pete from seven stars link 01 Dec 16 - 09:14 AM
Marje 01 Dec 16 - 05:25 PM
Senoufou 01 Dec 16 - 05:33 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 01 Dec 16 - 05:57 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Dec 16 - 08:19 PM
Donuel 01 Dec 16 - 08:26 PM
Donuel 01 Dec 16 - 08:40 PM
meself 01 Dec 16 - 10:14 PM
FreddyHeadey 02 Dec 16 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,Senoufou 02 Dec 16 - 04:22 AM
Mr Red 02 Dec 16 - 05:35 AM
meself 02 Dec 16 - 10:32 AM
BobL 02 Dec 16 - 12:15 PM
Mo the caller 02 Dec 16 - 12:29 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 02 Dec 16 - 01:06 PM
meself 02 Dec 16 - 05:01 PM
Mr Red 03 Dec 16 - 07:41 AM
GUEST,Senoufou 03 Dec 16 - 08:20 AM
Uncle_DaveO 03 Dec 16 - 09:44 AM
Thompson 03 Dec 16 - 10:09 AM
GUEST,pauperback 03 Dec 16 - 11:07 AM
GUEST,Senoufou 03 Dec 16 - 11:13 AM
Thompson 03 Dec 16 - 01:18 PM
GUEST,pauperback 03 Dec 16 - 01:26 PM
Thompson 03 Dec 16 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 03 Dec 16 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 03 Dec 16 - 01:47 PM
Thompson 03 Dec 16 - 02:49 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 03 Dec 16 - 03:45 PM
Thompson 03 Dec 16 - 05:48 PM
Senoufou 04 Dec 16 - 09:49 AM
Steve Shaw 04 Dec 16 - 10:45 AM
Thompson 04 Dec 16 - 10:48 AM
ripov 04 Dec 16 - 01:36 PM
GUEST,pauperback 04 Dec 16 - 01:51 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 04 Dec 16 - 02:12 PM
Steve Shaw 04 Dec 16 - 02:38 PM
Thompson 05 Dec 16 - 04:39 AM
GUEST,Senoufou 05 Dec 16 - 06:03 AM
Thompson 05 Dec 16 - 10:45 AM
meself 05 Dec 16 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 05 Dec 16 - 02:40 PM
Steve Shaw 05 Dec 16 - 03:30 PM
Senoufou 05 Dec 16 - 03:41 PM
Senoufou 05 Dec 16 - 03:55 PM
Steve Shaw 05 Dec 16 - 04:08 PM
Thompson 05 Dec 16 - 05:57 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 05 Dec 16 - 06:20 PM
Thompson 05 Dec 16 - 09:14 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Dec 16 - 11:27 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Dec 16 - 04:42 AM
Senoufou 06 Dec 16 - 05:53 AM
Thompson 10 Dec 16 - 02:59 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: meself
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 03:19 PM

Meaning gestures people unconsciously learn to make - unconsciously.

Case in point. About a year ago, I was watching the 'Seven Up' series (highly recommended!). The first episode was filmed in 1963; the children were seven years old. At one point, there are three or four girls together, when they are startled by something - I forget what; probably some boy doing something stupidly dangerous - in fact, now that I think of it, they might have been at the zoo; you'll see the relevance in a second - anyway, the girls, almost as one, gasp, and each thrusts her right hand flat against her chest. I was reminded of this a few minutes ago, watching Brendan Behan's Dublin (1966): at 20:24, a girl at the zoo is startled by a chimpanzee, and makes the identical gesture - gasp!, hand to chest.

I can't remember if the girls of my 1960s' childhood in southern Ontario automatically made that gesture, and I'm wondering if girls in Britain and Ireland, and beyond, still do. Observations?

And I wonder about other such gestures - gone by the wayside or still with us ....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 03:40 PM

This is very interesting. I've just watched your clip at 20:24, and I don't think I've ever seen that 'startle gesture' or ever used it myself (I'm in UK). I'm really old, but no-one in my life has ever used it. One puts one's hands to one's mouth if startled, or covers one's mouth perhaps. One hand on the chest is most odd. I could imagine doing that if flattered or complimented. (A sort of, "What me?" reaction)

Do you think unconscious gestures are learned and cultural? I reckon it's probably so.
In my travels I've noticed very different human gestures for various situations to those used in UK.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: meself
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 04:29 PM

Here it is in Seven Up! - watch from 0:47.

Undoubtedly there are gestures that are innate and universal - certain facial expressions (horror, fear, anger), jerking away from a surprise - but a vast array of others that are cultural, and that we probably learn as infants and toddlers, observing adults and older children. Example: Raised eyebrows, which to us indicate interest, disbelief, or suprise, to the Inuit mean 'yes'. A crinkled nose, while it can signal disgust, more commonly just means 'no'.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 05:28 PM

Yes, two little girls definitely use that hand-on-chest gesture in the Seven-Up! clip. Isn't that fascinating?
I learned British (deaf) sign language to Stage 1, and one is encouraged to gesture in addition to the recognised signs, to aid communication. So rather exaggerated facial expressions and body posturing are used to emphasise meaning.
African women often clap once to express pleasant surprise, but men never do that.
Greeks lift their chin to express 'no', but it can look as if they're nodding in agreement.
And Indians wobble their heads to show agreement or thanks.
I'm just wondering if there are natural universal gestures, or all of them are learned and cultural. If one watched babies, one couldn't be sure they weren't copying their own parents' gestures.
I believe the Italians have a myriad gestures for various situations. Didn't the 'cuckold' two-finger pointing (index and little finger) originate there? And the elbow-flex with clenched fist (a sexual reference).
This is all very, very fascinating!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Joe_F
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 05:52 PM

There is an amusing book, _The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals_, by Charles Darwin.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: meself
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 06:01 PM

Isn't he the guy that wrote that knee-slapper (speaking of gestures) Origin of Species?

**********************

I know I've seen women do that single pleasant-surprise clap; I just can't put a face to a time. It could well have been women of African background ....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 06:01 PM

I make an automatic gesture when somebody cuts me off on the freeway - does that one count?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: meself
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 06:45 PM

Well ... that does raise an interesting question: at what point does a deliberate gesture become an automatic gesture? And will the 'automatic' defence stand up in court? I think most of us can recall having made a 'learned' gesture without thinking, before we even knew we were doing it ...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: CupOfTea
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 07:27 PM

I find myself absorbing gestures from folks I'm close to emotionally, when I spend lots of time around them, but like adapting to a regional accent through intense exposure, most of it tends to trickle away with time.

In my 20s, there was the hooked together index fingers when one was in a thoughtful discussion, seldom do it now. After my beat friend retired and I did lots of driving with him, I found myself using his same two handed, fingers splayed out and palms facing inward shaking motion when irked by drivers who wouldn't move. ( backhanded "jazz hands" perhaps?)

One I've done all my life is to raise both hands, palm out, elbows tucked at the side, shoulders shrugging as a "leave me out of this" gesture meaning or I'm fed up, done, with a situation. Had a weird situation when an obstructive UPS clerk's reaction with my attitude of frustration had him holler "don't you raise your hand to me!" I don't know if this was an actual cultural misread, or a willful ploy to try to make me out to be violent.

Joanne in Cleveland, whose personal gesture is a nose wiggle: just because I can


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Rapparee
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 09:56 PM

I think that, technically, it's called "acting." Gestures have been part of acting and oratory for many centuries (it's called "chironomia") and reinforce the actor's response in the scene. We all do it, it's part of our culture; actors do it because acting is, after all, exaggerated reality. (If you doubt that, sit in when a disc jockey is broadcasting on the radio and then listen to how the person sounds when not on the air.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: meself
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 12:35 AM

Well, I don't know about that. To my understanding, acting is when you're "putting on an act", a gesture in that case being contrived and deliberate, to some degree - not 'automatic'.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 12:41 AM

I used to work at a university that had lots of international students. One thing that puzzled me when I first encountered it was the way Indian students wobbled their heads while they talked to me. Here's a video. The one I'm talking about occurs at 1:27. I can't even do it the way they do it! But it's a common gesture that means, "yes, I understand." You can find several other videos at YouTube about this.

Did you know different cultures have different ways of handling money when they count it? Another video.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Thompson
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 01:39 AM

I make that hand-on-heart gesture for shock. I've often seen it (in women I think, but maybe in men too) in Ireland.
The hand-over-mouth gesture is an interesting one. In the photo of Obama and all his senior staff watching the murder of Osama bin Laden live on video, Hillary Clinton is unconsciously covering her mouth in that way, and it made me respect her more than the others.
For years I didn't understand this run of dialogue in Romeo and Juliet - I knew it was the start of a row, but all that thumb-biting?

SAMPSON
Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.
Enter ABRAHAM and BALTHASAR
ABRAHAM
Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
SAMPSON
I do bite my thumb, sir.
ABRAHAM
Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
SAMPSON
[Aside to GREGORY] Is the law of our side, if I say ay?
GREGORY
No.
SAMPSON
No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.
GREGORY
Do you quarrel, sir?
ABRAHAM
Quarrel sir! no, sir.
SAMPSON
If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you.

Then I saw a Cockney do it in a film - now I understood it fully! The gesture was to put the thumb in the mouth, nail facing in, and whip it out of the biting teeth, glaring with hate as he did it. It was incredibly offensive!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,ST
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 04:45 AM

I read "Man Watching " by Desmond Morris when I was young. It was a follow up to his more famous "The Naked Ape". He was a zoologist and presented a TV programme: I think it was called Zootime.    His premise was that, if we observe human behaviour in the same way that we can study animal behaviour, we can find the "body language" that is universal to the human condition. He came up with lots of examples of innate and universal gestures and also explored their origins and significance. (His books are probably an easier read than Darwin's book as well.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Senoufou
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 07:20 AM

I have an elderly friend who's lived in Norfolk all her life. She has a curious way of what I call 'upside-down pointing' to indicate great displeasure and anger. It's quite threatening, according to her. You hook your index finger and turn it upwards, shaking it at the person you want to intimidate. I've seen ordinary pointing of course, 'wagging the finger' at someone. But her upside-down pointing is quite effective. I use it myself sometimes!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 08:05 AM

It seems that pretty well all gestures we make can mean different things in different cultures, even the ones that seem instinctive. Nodding for yes and shaking the head for no can mean the opposite in some cultures. Even smiling showing the teeth can be seen as hostile. (That actually applies in our culture too - it's easy to smile in a threatening way.)

Waving come here is one which might be hard to misinterpret. And the infant gesture of holding up hands asking to be picked up is one we appear to share with chimpanzees and bonobos.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 08:21 AM

I think curling the lip is very threatening, and dogs do it too.
Africans often put both hands on their heads when shocked or very distressed. I've seen that elsewhere of course, but it's much more common in Africa, accompanied by a shrill wail.
I also love to see/hear African ladies 'sucking their teeth' in disapproval. It can be very loud, but in spite of many lessons from my in-laws, I've never managed to do it like them. Men there don't do this.
There seem to be quite a few gestures reserved for one sex or the other.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 09:14 AM

Preachers sometimes and dramatic orators of course use gesturing . When I used to preach or do poetry I deliberately tried to incorporate it . And even now as a singer I might gesture when playing allows


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Marje
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 05:25 PM

I remember reading or hearing some of Desmond Morris's theories about this. He reckoned that there were some aspects of body language that were quite universal. One was showing an open hand to some one you meet, as a wave, a handshake, etc. It's the opposite of a fist; it indicates that you have no weapon and mean no harm.

Another one is bowing the head, or even lowering the body by bending the knee, in humility, or to show respect or subservience. The opposite of this is doing all you can to gain height - standing on a platform, raising your head high, wearing a tall hat or headgear, using high hand gestures - which are ways of asserting superiority or dominance.

Putting your hand near your mouth or your nose as you speak can often indicate that you are not being honest - you are subconsciously using your hand to interrupt the untruth.

These might all sound a bit obvious, but you can see little echoes of them in casual, everday conversations all the time.

Fascinating stuff.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Senoufou
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 05:33 PM

When shaking hands, Africans grasp their wrist with their other hand.It's rude to offer one's hand on its own. Same for accepting something offered. You use both hands.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 05:57 PM

The media of the internet is now universal and visual.

It might take 24 hours before a movement...not the lyrics...transcends space and time and becomes global.

A classic example appeared within the USA 2016 elections.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

sleep well....your future is secure.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 08:19 PM

Insofar as shaking hands is a way of demonstrating non-hostility, doing it with both hands makes more sense, since it cuts out the possibility of using the other hand to clobber the other person.

But I don't like the version where the left hand grasps the other persons hand as well, or worse still the wrist - it feels over controlling. Some politicians seem to favour it.
............,,,,,,,

Right there, gargoyle - I really hope that Trump's extraordinary use of gestures to orchestrate his speeches won't becme common practice. Here are pictures of a previous politico who employed the same kind of repertoire.

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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Donuel
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 08:26 PM

Speaking of Darwin, The Naked Ape and Italian thumb biting, it is easy to see universal gestures in infants Have you ever seen a drowsy or sleeping baby hold up their hand or hands in the 'stop' gesture if disturbed? Or how about the thumb to index finger in the symbol of 'perfect'?

Embedded instinctive gestures are usually species specific.
Monkey see monkey do is off base pertaining to gestures.
Not even chimps can point to the subject of interest.

Then there is the gestures dogs make to humans that is undoubtedly an artifact of breeding. Not everybody can read dogs as well as people gifted autistic or dimensional minded people. Linear minded people may be brilliant but interspecies communication is completely lost on them.

I am saying that gestures at an extension of language
Some mammals speak an Xray language so foreign to us we can barely imagine their literal visual sound sense.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Donuel
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 08:40 PM

Come to think of it there are automatic gestures in our tonal expressions. Chinese is a tonal language with unerringly similar tonal cohesiveness. Maybe that's why more Chinese people per capita have perfect pitch than westerners.

We recognize a sort of minor third as a gesture of are you thee.
It is more of a slightly flat major third than a minor third anyway.
It could be argued that the well tempered scale is not the most human o scales.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: meself
Date: 01 Dec 16 - 10:14 PM

Speaking of the president-elect - I'm going to try to avoid getting political - , apart from his repertoire of odd gesticulations, he has a peculiar habit related to this whole matter: applauding himself. When I was a kid, in the '60s, I would be struck by seeing, on the TV news, Soviet leaders - Brezhnev, for example - taking the stage to an applauding crowd - and applauding themselves. It seemed to me, at the time, a naively shameless gesture of self-approbation - what you would expect from dictators. As an adult, I think that interpretation is probably a little off-base - still, I was taken aback to see Trump walk across the stage applauding with the audience . A few times I caught Hilary giving a few claps for herself, as if it was rubbing off. Anyone else find that strange - or has it become a common practice?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 02 Dec 16 - 03:55 AM

Trump applauding himself


I assumed he was applauding his audience
but who knows what is going on in his head.

I've certainly seen performers applaud their audience when they've had a good time.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 02 Dec 16 - 04:22 AM

Well, footballers applaud their fans quite a lot (especially the winning team!)

Interesting Donuel about tonal similarities. I reckon 'Coo-ee' is pretty universal for 'Here I am, are you there?' (although that can be 'koko' in Africa) And that deliberately annoying playground taunting song 'Mler mler mler MLER mler!' which I've heard in many other countries. even among Malinke and Bambara speakers.

GUEST ST, I've just ordered a secondhand copy of Manwatching from Amazon, so thank you for that reference!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Mr Red
Date: 02 Dec 16 - 05:35 AM

covering of mouth or covering eyes when something that the viewer see and relates to that is somehow not fully acceptable in society. Sort of preventing of saying or seeing something.

I think you will find one or other of these gestures is so common, and though learned, has meaning to the "doer" that is comforting at a level that is definitely nature (cf nurture)

FWIW I have 2 books on body language, which I thought might help with job hunting years ago.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: meself
Date: 02 Dec 16 - 10:32 AM

"I reckon 'Coo-ee' is pretty universal" - Well ... it's a new one on me - although it does remind me of the call my uncle (in PEI) used for his cows: "Co-co-co-co-co!"

As for "'Mler mler mler MLER mler!'" - I assume that's the equivalent of the North American 'Nya, nya, nya-NYA, nya!' ... ?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: BobL
Date: 02 Dec 16 - 12:15 PM

I understood that Russians apparently joining in their own applause were in fact acknowledging it - returning the compliment as it were.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Mo the caller
Date: 02 Dec 16 - 12:29 PM

You see a lot of that applauding yourself on TV gameshows. Not sure why.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 02 Dec 16 - 01:06 PM

Yes, meself, I expect the North American 'nya nya...' is the same idea. I was thinking of the tonal similarities as suggested by Donuel. And the 'coo-ee' can be in any words you like, but the tones or tune would be the same as 'cuckoo'.
I was very surprised to hear children in Abidjan doing the 'mler mler' tune to each other. They don't have any contact with Western influences, but the tune was exactly the same!
I wonder if there are any other little tonal human sounds used universally?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: meself
Date: 02 Dec 16 - 05:01 PM

Sorry, I'm not with you on the 'coo-ee'. We might say an interrogative 'Hello?' or - starting low, going high, coming half-way down - 'He-llo-ooo!'. Or - starting halfway, going down, halfway up, then rising; rhythmically - 'A-ny-bo-dy home?'. Or just a flat 'anybody' and up on 'home'.

***********

I'd forgotten about the clapping on gameshows. Just all part of the general inanity, I guess. Probably where Trump got it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Mr Red
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 07:41 AM

hello :
Its rise to popularity as a greeting (1880s) coincides with the spread of the telephone, where it won out as the word said in answering, over Alexander Graham Bell's suggestion, ahoy.

Interesting that Russian culture is for the object of applause to also clap. In Britain clapping oneself is infra-dig bordering on the naff.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 08:20 AM

Hahaha! I'd really love it if we could answer the telephone with "Ahoy!" Very nautical!

My sister and i have a jokey thing where she answers the phone to me with "Perpendicular Pencils. How can I help you?" and I use, "Horizontal Handles, Miss Knob speaking." The trouble is, I don't always look carefully at the caller display before saying it.....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 09:44 AM

In my youth, in Minnesota, an acquaintance worked in the summer at the city's swimming pool.

When he answered the phone there, His greeting was "MYOON-i-sip-l SWIM-ing hole!" With the emphasized syllables at a higher pitch, and the last word lower than the "ing". That is, he answered that way,

I guess that's thread creep, but something above brought it to mind.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Thompson
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 10:09 AM

The 'sucking their teeth' biz - is that what's normally written as 'Tut-tut'? That used to be a common expression of disapproval in Ireland, and I think I've seen it in old English and French films too. I used to work with an executive who commonly tutted in disapproval of his inferiors' work, and they had nicknamed him Skippy (after Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, who made the same sound).

The finger-and-thumb-in-circle gesture is one to be wary of. In some cultures it means 'perfect', in others 'ok', and in others it is an offensive gesture, the female equivalent of the extended middle finger (which itself only entered the non-American lexicon in the 1970s or so, I think).

Other gestures have gone out of use, like a slow shaking of imaginary water off the fingertips, which in the 1950s-60s could mean, depending on context, 'what a drip' or 'way cool, man!' And the 'yack-yack-yack' gesture for someone who talks too much, of repeatedly opening and closing the hand so thumb and fingertips touch (with an accompanying closed-eyes look of pained patience)…

People in the west of Ireland used to point with lip or chin when I was little, and I still have the habit of doing that. Pointing with the hand was considered rude.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 11:07 AM

Thompson, the American political party - The Know Nothings - used the "finger-and-thumb-in-circle gesture" in conjunction with the eye and nose as a secret sign, (apply applicable offensive gesture here)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 11:13 AM

No Thompson, it isn't a 'tut tut' sound. It's a long, drawn-out rattling noise. You put your tongue firmly behind your upper front teeth and suck hard for ages. My sisters-in-law fall about laughing at my feeble attempts. It's a standing joke there. I always get asked to try and they always scream with laughter. I suspect it's to with their slightly different lips and mouth to my European features.
Do people still do the pointing index finger to side of head and wiggling it to indicate "He's a bit bonkers"?
I quite like the new thing where you put up the palm of your hand saying, "Talk to the hand, the face ain't listening!' That's really funny.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Thompson
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 01:18 PM

Yeah, circling the index finger at the temple for 'cuckoo'.

Hm, if you could find a YouTube showing the sucking-teeth I'd be interested. There's a Japanese suck of air between top teeth and lower lip that means "Oh-my-goodness-I'd-love-to-help-but-that-would-be-awfully-awfully-difficult".

And again, back to the Aran Islands of the 1950s: the sound used to slow or stop a horse was a purr through the trembling lips that sounds like the kind of snort a horse makes. I think this sound is no longer used in Aran, though.

Another new thing is pointing upwards at the eyes with forked fingers, then pointing the forked fingers at someone, to mean "I'll be watching you". I first saw it in the film Meet the Parents and wondered if it was a Sicilian gesture.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 01:26 PM

Any questions were answered: I (eye) know (nose) nothing (0)

SMH


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Thompson
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 01:29 PM

Ah, found a video, though they call it
kissing their teeth. Yeah, Irish people used to do this, but don't so much now. But not so much for frustration as for "Well-now-let-me-think". We do it by flattening the very tippy tip of the tongue between the top and bottom front teeth and sucking in over the top of the tongue-tip.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 01:29 PM

Ah, pointing at one's eyes with two hooked fingers is BSL for 'see'.

What about tapping the side of one's nose with the forefinger, meaning "I know something but I'm not going to tell you." or alternatively, "Keep quiet and be wise."

I'll have a look on Youtube for disapproval-teeth-sucking, there may be something on there.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 01:47 PM

Well done Thompson,you beat me to it and I cross-posted! The black lady (the third one to demonstrate in your clip) most closely resembles my in-laws; it's a very loud sound.

My Siamese cats have several gestures (which tally with all the cats I've had over the years.) A tight closure of the eyes accompanied by a head lift is an affectionate gesture. Lowering the head and opening the eyes wide, however, is aggressive and a warning of attack.

I think being helped by deaf people at my BSL classes (several volunteered to 'talk' with us students and help us to practise) showed me just how important and useful gestures are. For instance, if you crook your elbow close to your side and pump it out and in, most people would think of playing bagpipes. This is the BSL sign for Scot or Scottish. Putting two forefingers side-by-side is the sign for 'same as'. There are many more which are fairly universal and quite obvious, even to a hearing person.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Thompson
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 02:49 PM

I speak fluent cat, though only a few words. There's the greeting that James Joyce expresses as "mkgnao", if I remember the spelling right, and the briefer Siamese version of this, "meringue". There's the shirring meow with a tremble on the palate that's a general "Going well for you?" And of course anyone who's ever lived with a cat is familiar with the "Open the effing door, wouldja?" meow, and the horrible "Help, I'm in bad trouble" wail.

I also speak fluent baby, and am glad that there are now YouTube videos explaining which cry means what.

My favourite thing about the various sign languages (which are different languages from country to country, like spoken languages, and have very different grammars) is the slang: Prince Charles is two hands cupped behind the ears; a Protestant (in Irish Sign Language) is a sash drawn from shoulder to waist; an Irish person (in British Sign Language) is a flick of the shoulder as if knocking off a chip. Politically incorrect all, but funny!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 03:45 PM

Hahaha Thompson! One of our cats often says "Laptop!" when we ask him what he'd like for Christmas. And the "Help!" cry for all ours is "Wow-WOOOOOH!"

We were warned about the flicking thing for 'Irish' (We were told it used to mean flicking off a flea!!). Its very non-PC nowadays. The correct sign is two fingers tapping the top of the other hand.

All the Irish side of my family are excellent communicators, linguists, mimics and reciters. They all love singing complicated comic songs (a bit Val Doonican-like) Do you think this is a trait Irish people have naturally? I like to think I've inherited it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Thompson
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 05:48 PM

It's cultural - centuries of repeated ethnic cleansing meant that only "the portable arts" were possible. In earlier centuries Irish people were good on visual art - come in and have a look at the beautiful early Christian gold work in the National Museum if you're ever in Dublin, for instance. But there wasn't much point learning to make and sell luxury goods like paintings or sculptures or fine jewellery if the patrons were all now impoverished, and the people who'd taken over their land had no appreciation for these arts.

But humans have to make art no matter what, so the artistic urge diverted into stories and music and poetry - well, poetry had always been strong; before the 17th century there were stringent schools teaching apprentice poets with a programme that included lying in the dark memorising a huge canon of poetry all day for many months (must have been terrible for the eyesight) and later learning to compose on horseback. But all that went when the Gaelic lords were disenfranchised and deported to Connacht en masse.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Senoufou
Date: 04 Dec 16 - 09:49 AM

That's all extremely fascinating Thompson. My mother and all her sisters could recite absolute screeds of poetry, in very expressive voices, and also tell wonderful stories. I used to listen wide-eyed as they recounted tales of witches and the Devil, magic places and people being bewitched. One of my Irish aunties was a drama tutor in a college. Another emigrated to Canada and was a book-buyer for a big store. My mother adored the theatre. I think 'words' was the common denominator.
I have qualifications in literature, languages, linguistics and phonetics, so I really think I have inherited their flair to some extent!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Dec 16 - 10:45 AM

My sister and i have a jokey thing where she answers the phone to me with "Perpendicular Pencils. How can I help you?" and I use, "Horizontal Handles, Miss Knob speaking." The trouble is, I don't always look carefully at the caller display before saying it.....

In our house it's "Hello, Bolton Tyre Company, how may one help one?" 😁


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Thompson
Date: 04 Dec 16 - 10:48 AM

Part of the reason for reciting screeds of poetry was that learning by heart was the norm until a generation ago in Ireland. It was denounced as robbing kids of their creativity; now, scientists are saying that it is a protective factor against Alzheimer's…


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: ripov
Date: 04 Dec 16 - 01:36 PM

I think you'll find 'tutting' originally meant spitting, as in the pub name 'Tut and Shive', ie 'spit and sawdust' It still is used by some as a gesture of disapproval (or maybe warding off evil) when they see a person of another race, although it is becoming 'normalised' as they say, by the behaviour of sportspersons.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 04 Dec 16 - 01:51 PM

Interesting about the Irish. One post is about the oppression of the Irish, another about widespread witchcraft. Is there a correlation?

IOW, did the witchcraft preceed the opression, or is the witchcraft the result of opression?

And, about the Irish and words; lots of Irish clergy in the US, so many in fact one guy was bragging that not all that long ago all the archbishops in the United States were Irish. The other guy hesitatingly said; uh, well...yeah, then changed the subject.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 04 Dec 16 - 02:12 PM

Hahahaha Steve! Do you always check who's calling before saying that, or do you say it anyway? Our number is the same but for one digit as a nearby hotel, and expecting a call from my sister, I once said my jokey thing without looking at the caller display. The person at the other end replied, "Er...hello Miss..er.. Knob. I'd like to order a table for four please..." It was several seconds before I could stop giggling long enough to explain they had the wrong number.

Donuel, I find tonal languages so interesting. I speak a little Cantonese, and the word for 'bread' sounds like 'meeeem bau'. The second sound has the note going right up. My husband speaks Malinke, and it has two tones, high and low. 'My house' is 'ngya bo' and the 'bo' drops right down in tone.

(Apologies for this disgraceful thread drift.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Dec 16 - 02:38 PM

Oh yes, you have to check! Only the select few victims are in on the joke. Our number is just one digit different from the local cinema. Could have sold dozens of tickets over the years!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Thompson
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 04:39 AM

If you think of the English in Ireland in the 16th and 17th centuries, it's useful to reference ISIS. As Protestant fundamentalists, they broke up church art, tortured and burned non-Protestant clergy, stole church land and gave it to prominent fundamentalists. Their aim was to steal - redistribute - the good land to Protestants, and to wipe out the Papists, either directly as in Walter Ralegh and his stepbrother and friends' murders in Munster, or by deporting them to poor land on which it was impossible to live. And they were deeply superstitious, in much the same way as Isis fighters today; when Rory Óg O'More succeeded in escaping every ambush they set for him, they became convinced that he was a 'sorcerer'.
These were the same people who went off to what they named Jamestown in America - I saw a piece, in the National Geographic online, I think it was, recently that was all excited but baffled about strange goods found in the grave of one of the settlers - to anyone reading it with a little knowledge it was obvious that the marks were 'apotropaic' marks and the goods secret Mass goods, but the archaeologists hadn't copped to this. Obviously a secret English Catholic had smuggled himself in among these fundamentalist settlers, as the safest place to hide!
But we're creeping off topic a little here, interesting though it is. What about the pointing-to-heaven gesture made by Islamic fundamentalists all over the world now - is this a new gesture, or just newly publicised?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 06:03 AM

Thompson, my husband (a Muslim) says he's never in his life seen or used that pointing upwards gesture. He says it's a Jihadi ISIS thing, and only That Lot use it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Thompson
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 10:45 AM

Interesting. Signals like this come and go - the clenched-fist-bowed-head salute given at the Olympics some years ago to signify oppression of black Americans; the hidden-hand gesture common in portraits of 19th-century Fenians; Hitler et al's 'Roman' salute; the hand-on-heart gesture American children use when reciting the 'Plege of Allegiance'…

Then there are the gestures used to avert bad luck or call in good luck - crossed fingers; salt-over-left-shoulder; tapping a knife on another if they cross to avert a quarrel; touching or knocking on wood; the 'Live Long and Prosper' gesture from Star Trek.

Humans really have quite a rich non-verbal language when you think about it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: meself
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 12:39 PM

Hmmm ... pulling out your knife or knives to prevent a disagreement from escalating seems a little iffy ... !


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 02:40 PM

I've often wondered why singers cover one ear with their hand. Is it to help with pitch?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 03:30 PM

To hear yourself as well as to hear any accompaniment (with the other ear). Your arm transmits some of your own sound to your ear. It works equally well with the harmonica. It looks like an affectation but it's very useful technique, certainly not "finger in the ear."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Senoufou
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 03:41 PM

So you stick your harmonica in your ear Steve?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Senoufou
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 03:55 PM

Marje, as is the custom, I always curtsey to my extremely elderly in-laws. And one should avoid eye-contact, looking firmly at the ground when speaking with them. I love doing it, as they're absolute sweeties and deserve much respect and deference.

Some tribes shield their mouths a bit when speaking to 'taboo' family members (mothers-in-law for example) or even address a convenient tree as a go-between!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 04:08 PM

I've been told to stick it in various other places...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Thompson
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 05:57 PM

meself, if knives cross, it's a sign (in Irish superstition) of an impending quarrel, and therefore you pick up one knife and tap the blade on the other's to stop the row.

Senoufou, you may be interested in this: black children normally roll their eyes up to signify respect; this caused or causes some anger among white teachers, who see it as 'giving cheek' when the kids are showing the respect they would show to their beloved grandmother.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 06:20 PM

Steve, I'm dying laughing at you!

My Irish mother was always seeing doom and gloom in various 'signs' around the house. She used to fling salt behind her to get the better of The Devil. Knives and scissors were always signs of something or other. And an itchy palm was getting money or spending it, depending on which hand.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Thompson
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 09:14 PM

Nooo! The left palm itching is money, the right is you're going to meet someone! And if a knife falls on the floor, a man will visit, a fork a woman, a spoon a child! Nothing comes to mind for scissors, though.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Dec 16 - 11:27 PM

"I've often wondered why singers cover one ear with their hand. Is it to help with pitch?"
What Steve Shaw says - one of the oldest singing technique in the world
CLEAR EXPLANATION HERE
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Dec 16 - 04:42 AM

Cheers for that, Jim. I didn't actually realise that putting a finger IN the ear was a technique! I've used the cupping a lot, my only ever critic being Mrs Steve, who accuses me of suffering from a folkie affectation! She's no musician...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Senoufou
Date: 06 Dec 16 - 05:53 AM

Ah, all is explained. Thank you.
Regarding scissors, it had something to do with giving a coin of some sort if you gave scissors as a gift, as they might 'cut' the friendship.
My father used to roll his eyes to heaven at these capers, but he never actually said anything.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Automatic Gestures
From: Thompson
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 02:59 PM

I'd see that hand-to-chest gesture as expressing "Be still, my beating heart!"


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