December 27th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Zakaria: Hand signals that could land you in hot water

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

If you're a citizen of the world, which you probably are if you're on this site, you might want to check out a book called Don't Get Me Wrong: The Global Gestures Guide. The book is all about how different hand gestures mean different things in different places.

For instance, here in the United States, if you want two sugars in your coffee, you might make a certain gesture at the barista. That same gesture means "eight" in China. And the same hand signal with a little movement added means "not good" in Italy.

Put those fingers on your forehead, and it means "loser" in many parts of the world. But let's go back to Italy for a second. I would suggest being very careful with your gestures there. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura may very well have made enemies out of married Italian men on Inauguration Day in 2005. Why?

Well, they flashed the cameras with the symbol of the Texas longhorns - the hook 'em horns. In some parts of the world, it's the symbol for "Rock On." Unfortunately, in Italy it means, "Your wife is cheating on you."

Check out the video above to see the signals.

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Topics: Culture • GPS Show • Last Look

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Hahahahahahahaha

    How about this one? nllm Hahahahahahaha.

    December 27, 2011 at 9:44 am | Reply
  2. ಠ_ಠ

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    December 27, 2011 at 9:52 am | Reply
    • AcclaimedMan

      How long it took to make this? We just do this in a click by raising only the middle finger !!!! ROFL !!!!

      December 27, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Reply
  3. Alex

    That gesture does not mean 'Eight' in China, but 'Seven'.

    December 27, 2011 at 10:01 am | Reply
    • Jennifer

      That makes more sense.

      December 27, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    Written words are the safest means. There will be no misunderstanding!

    December 27, 2011 at 10:34 am | Reply
    • Jennifer

      There could be a language barrier.

      December 27, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Reply
  5. cheese

    Slug Moses's Avatar

    Join Date: Apr 2005
    Posts: 5,102
    Slug Moses is on a distinguished road

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    December 27, 2011 at 11:17 am | Reply
    • AcclaimedMan

      Again?

      How long it took to make this? We just do this in a click by raising only the middle finger !!!! ROFL !!!!

      December 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Reply
    • Grey

      Tried this hand Gesture with the MP's at the Air Force Academy a few years back. The results were almost insperational.

      December 28, 2011 at 7:49 am | Reply
  6. Joe Fattal

    You can have my bird. No sign in this one.

    December 27, 2011 at 11:24 am | Reply
  7. Michael

    Interesting but a little clarification in Italy and most latin countries the fingers are together, in America they are open and in China it is the baby finger and the one next to it (open).

    December 27, 2011 at 11:48 am | Reply
  8. Boo

    In the UK the gesture is two fingers (like the V for Victory sign).

    December 27, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  9. peick

    So reading CNN makes us "citizens of the world?" Is that similar to how drinking Starbucks means you have a discriminating palate?

    December 29, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  10. bobojake

    This was a stupid video. There was no doubt What George and Laura meant and if you was confused then tough.
    They eas in Washington, DC if you didn"t notice.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  11. Hahahaha

    Who cares what hand signals mean to foreigners? They can lick my balls.

    December 31, 2011 at 3:14 am | Reply
    • .

      If you were a dog you could lick your own balls.

      I bet you wish you were a dog.

      December 31, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  12. .

    Ha!

    December 31, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  13. David

    During his visit to Australia George Bush senior waved a two fingered victory salute at the crowd from his car. The problem is in Australia its done with the palm facing outward. He did it with palm inward, which means 'up yours' in the Commonwealth. The Australians thought it was terrific.

    January 11, 2012 at 5:37 am | Reply

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