March 1, 2008

Cross-Cultural Differences? (Disaster!)

Posted in I didn't know that! tagged , , , , , , , at 2:05 pm by Olórin


I used to think that the whole world nods in approval and shakes head sideways in disapproval! Vell I was wrong! Even though the majority express it this way,According to Charles Darwin, author of “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)”  there are some exceptions!

Australian natives:

“don’t shake the head, but holding up the right hand, shake it by turning it half round and back again two or three times.”, A certain Native told Darwin that Abyssinians expressed the word “no” by tilting the head to the right and making a slight cluck, and “yes” by throwing the head back and raising the eyebrows instantly.


Nodded for yes and “winked” for no! (LOL! We would be lost if we went up there!)


Okay this is where trouble ensues! There a nod means “no” and a head-shake means “yes”. (Imagine the catastrophe! I can’t believe my parents lived there for 3 years!)


Their “yes” is shaking head from side to side and “no” is throwing the head back and make a slight cluck! (Yawch I got my hair cut yesterday by a Turkish woman! no wonder she kept repeatedly asking me, I remember nodding a lot 00;)

Other misinterpreted gestures:

We do the Thumbs-up as a sign of approval inspired by the Romans, Sadly, zat’s a myth! It happened as a result of successive mistranslations that we think it’s how the Romans showed mercy. The real gestures were hiding the thumb in a clenched fist, signaling mercy, and if they wanted the dude torn apart they would extend their thumb in a stabbing motion.

The Thumbs-up sign is known world-wide as an “OK” gesture, but in Sardinia and Greece it means “Screw you”! ( your future visits to Greece inshalla, Just nod your head ^^; )



  1. suspic said,

    I love the Italians’ “finger”. The thing with the hands, and neck/jaw.

    I almost did it in Italy but was afraid..

  2. Amethyst said,

    Lol! We should check these before we travel;p

  3. Olórin said,

    Good thinking..the Italians would’ve made pasta out of you and ate it for supper.

    LOL so true!

  4. eshda3wa said,

    and its not just gestures!!

    some words can mean one innocent thing in one language and be a total taboo word in another!!

  5. FourMe said,

    Those Eskimos are big flirts 😉 Seems like a majority of the Kuwaiti population are descendent of the Eskimos..
    I knew some gestures where misinterpreted in some cultures but didn’t know about the Turks.. I have a Turkish friend I’ll experiment on her..

  6. zainoba said,

    Love the Eskimos:)

    Ill make sure I put my Thumb Up when Im pissed with someone in Greece

  7. Nicole said,

    Indians say “yes” and keep shaking their heads too 🙂
    I didn’t know about Bulgaria – strange 😀

    Thanks for the lesson!

  8. Bashar said,

    They should come up with standard I say 🙂

  9. Olórin said,

    Yea exactly..happens even between Arabian countries!

    LOOL!! share the results of your experiment with us!

    LOL I hope you come back in one piece! I heard the Greek are quite tough!

    Yea lol “acha acha” and shake their heads slightly.
    Most welcome, dear one =D

    Would save us alot of trouble!

  10. Amu said,

    lol next time before I travel will check it 🙂

  11. Mrm said,

    i love this post… how about u find out the origin of the middle finger!

  12. Soul said,

    LOOOOL yes the middle finger plz! do ur search ;p

  13. Olórin said,

    lol Inshala.

    LOL I’ll do so, if I find reliable information I’ll post it!


  14. haha imagine me in greece after having a meal and complimenting the chef Thumbs-up :p

    and Bulgaria sounds depressing ya3ni why wuld they be so different!

  15. G and L said,

    I’ll print this page next time I wanna travel

  16. Olórin said,

    LOL..matshofen illa 9a7an yayyich 6ayaran!
    I know, a7is tuwihhig!

    G and L:
    lol! Awesome!

  17. Linus said,

    lol! I always nod 😛

  18. vixenfatale said,

    *shakes hand by turning it half round and back again two or three times* hehehehehehe 😛 nice post !

  19. Outkasty said,

    sha3b il-Eskimo kharba6 il-mawazeen lol

  20. Olórin said,

    A7sanlik, its not offensive anywhere!

    lol! thanks!

    They’re awesome! dakhallow il wink bil daily communication! The Bulgarians on the other hand IGLIBOW il mawazeen!

  21. F. said,

    Very interesting 🙂

    tilting back and raising the eyebrows is really cute 😛

  22. Olórin said,

    The thumbs-up sign in Greece is cute too lol!

  23. KJ said,


    hehehehe @ post lmao

    You have to see what happens in the office – we have at least 6 different nationalities and things get quite funny at times!

  24. Olórin said,

    I can imagine LOL!

  25. How about Indians shaking their heads in a figure of 8 motion? 🙂

  26. Olórin said,

    Yea! Not only Indians, I think it’s also popular in the South Asian area!

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