Traditional Russian Gestures

Who would think about it, but we perceive 80% of surrounding information with the help of our eyes, and only 20% with the help of ears. When transmitting information fr om one person to the other, gestures are certainly used in conversation. And the point is not about the deaf. Speech becomes lively, emotional and clear with the help of gestures.

Every nation and nationality has its own significant gestures. So do Russians. Let's recollect distinctive Russian gestures and find out what they mean.

"Кукиш с маслом" /Fat Lot/ and Other Gestures

What does a Russian man usually do when inviting someone to have a drink? What gesture do we show to a person we are talking to when pointing out that our neighbor, colleague or just a friend took a drop? That's right - we snap on our throat. Usually we do it with the help of index or middle finger.

Such gesture is an obvious hint to drink vodka or something stronger together or to point to someone who already did it, to be on a bender or to tank up, something exaclty of the kind.

Where did this strange Russian gesture come from? It is told that Peter the First, being in good mood, decided to award some artisan for his talent and skills. Having invited him, Peter asked, what would he like to get as an award. The artisan asked for the special privilege without even thinking for while - to drink vodka in any tavern absolutely free of charge. At that time Peter had already monopolized all distilled beverages in Russia.

The artisan was scratched an itch. Special stigma put by that man was the permit. Entering a tavern, he pointed to that "document" with the help of familiar gesture - snap on the throat. Thus this gesture has become an unchangeable attribute of heating drink and their consumers.

Do you remember how we count on fingers? We bend our fingers of an opened palm in sequence, starting fr om the little one. And do you know that not everybody does it this way? For instance, exquisite Frencmen act vice versa. Counting on fingers, they unbend their fingers. Maybe, in virtue of Russian character, we bend our fingers while counting to get a fist.

What do we usually do while saying, "А мне на все плевать!" /"I couldn't care less!"/ That's right! We flourish our arm! This specific gesture is distinctive for Russians. There is even an expression "на все махнуть рукой" /to kiss good-bye/. It is not even necesarry to to raise and put down one's hand.

It is interesting, but Frenchmen wave their hands backward in the similar situation, demonstrating that they leave a problem or situation behind. Russian in this case pull a problem down, getting rid of load or burden.

What do we do when we want to show that a person is lacking in mind? That's right! We spin index finger near the temple, emphasizing that a person has thoughtless brains. Like: pit your wits, maybe that would start working!

How does Russian calls for autostop? What what signals do we usually make with the help of our hand? Traditionally, we put it up. Do you remember school lessons or party conferences? That's how we drive one's attention and want to be noticed!

It is interesting, but Frenchmen do everything vice versa. Wishing to flag down a passing car, they put a hand down, kind of pointing to a driver to stop at the exact place.

Let's get back to alcohol. Imagine that you are visiting someone. You are offered to have a drink. You ask a host to pour just a little. What gesture is unwillingly done with your hand? That's right! Thumb and index finger are brought together! Other fingers remain fisted at that. Moreover, this gesture is used for describing not only visible things, but we also use it in relation to abstract notions. «У меня времени осталось чуть-чуть!» /I've got just a little time left/, and show it with the help of gesture.

When Russian express their feelings, they either involuntary put their hands on a heart, thereby expressing their sincerity, or put both hands up, showing that they agree with an interlocutor or give in discussion.

What do we do when we are fed up? We put an opened down palm to chin or throat, like saying, «Хватит, больше не надо» /Chuck it in, no more/.

Arms at side. This is one more interesting gesture with indigenously Russian roots. Try to recollect pioneers at celebratory assembly or soldiers on a hardstand in front of commanding officer. Wh ere did the gesture «Руки по швам» /arms at side/ come from? Russian reformer Peter the First started reorganization of his army. The expression «стоять во фронте» /to stay in the forefront/ arised exactly at that time. A soldier with his arms at side has become the symbol of subjection and obedience.

And for the finale. Remember the posters and picters of revolutionaries after the rise to power in 1917. A full length peasant woman or working man defiantly show the figure фигу /the bird/ to all bourgeois and capitalistic doggery.

Фига or кукиш /the bird or nonentity/ is traditionally Russian gesture! A person showing the bird (a clinched fist with shoved thumb between index and middle fingers) expresses extreme discontent, denial or even spite.

It may be the most energetic but the most vulgar gesture as well, inasmuch as it traces its roots to ancient times, and denotes male genital organs, reminding us the process of coupling of a man and a woman. A person, who decided to show this gesture, either feels disdain or threatens us evidenly.

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