"O. K." sign

emckean at ENTERACT.COM emckean at ENTERACT.COM
Fri Nov 3 04:14:25 UTC 2000

With all these wonderful sources listed below, *somebody* ought to be able
to write a quick article on this for VERBATIM. Hint, hint. (1200-2000
words, by Dec. 1?)

(and don't forget to send George a finder's fee!).

Erin McKean
editor at verbatimmag.com

On Thu, 2 Nov 2000, GSCole wrote:

> OK, I should have asked my student just where it was, in his many
> travels, that he was informed that our finger gesture of OK was the
> equivalent of an obscene gesture.  My initial presumption does not
> appear to be OK.
> Dennis' comments caused me to wonder why I hadn't earlier pursued the
> 'hand gestures' topic with some of my colleagues.  Years ago, in Korea,
> I'd learned that the U.S. good-bye wave was akin to the Korean gesture
> for 'come here.'  That misunderstanding caused a minor problem on a DMZ
> patrol.  I don't doubt that there are other gestures, however subtle,
> that leave room for misunderstanding.
> I sought some clarification from Roger E. Axtell's -- Gestures: The Do's
> and Taboos of Body Language Around the World, as published by John Wiley
> & Sons in 1991.  The eyelid pull, as noted in Doug's question, is among
> the many gestures discussed in the book.
> Axtell has a couple of pages with information on the 'O.K. sign'.  He
> closes one section with the statement that "Better, perhaps, to quickly
> learn the words in the local language for 'Yes' and 'Fine' and keep your
> hands at your side.  Elsewhere, in the book, he notes that the OK sign
> is likely to be an insult of some sort in:  Malta, Sardinia, Greece,
> Brazil, Tunisia, Italy, Turkey, the Soviet Union, and Paraguay.
> A web site that contains some of the Axtell information is:
> http://www.webofculture.com/refs/gestures.html
> Central and South American gestures at:
> http://www.webofculture.com/refs/gesture_s_am.html
> Other, web sites that present some info:
> http://www.salonmag.com/wlust/road/1998/11/19road.html
> http://www.transimage.com/Ges/GesOK.html
> George S. Cole   gscole at ark.ship.edu
> Shippensburg University

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