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Quiz about A Gesture in Another Culture
Quiz about A Gesture in Another Culture

A Gesture in Another Culture Trivia Quiz


The way in which emotions are displayed in gesture can vary greatly from culture to culture. Even the most simplistic gesture can cause outrage if exhibited in the wrong setting. This quiz looks at the hows and whys. Good luck!

A multiple-choice quiz by doublemm. Estimated time: 5 mins.
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Author
doublemm
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
312,304
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
2963
Awards
Top 5% quiz!
Last 3 plays: Guest 176 (8/10), Guest 217 (0/10), Guest 180 (2/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. Which physical gesture, commonly recognised in the western world as an affirmative, can be found vulgar and offensive in places such as the Middle East and parts of Greece? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. Open displays of anger are becoming more and more common in many countries, even in Britain - a country known for its emotional restraint. Actions such as pointing aggressively, scrunching your face and raising your voice will make most people think you are angry. However, if you were to display these gestures in Kenya what are the locals most likely to think? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. When taking a picture you may see people motioning the "rabbit ears" sign behind another person's head. In countries such as Britain this is done in a harmless, playful manner. However, when done to a Brazilian man what are you seen to be suggesting? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. What act, seen as homosexual in westernised countries, is a very common sign of friendship in India, Muslim countries and African countries? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. Surely a nod is a universal sign for "yes"? No. In Greece only a downward nod means yes and an upward nod accompanied by a sucking or clicking sound means no. So careful when answering questions! What other gesture in Greece can be used to say "yes"? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. One thing which is shared by almost all cultures is the annoyance and inconvenience caused by camera happy tourists. However, some cultures react to different extremes. In rural Ghana, what was the reaction of the first locals who had their picture taken by explorers? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. The "OK" sign made by forming a circle with your thumb and forefinger is generally used by Britons and Americans to tell each other that everything is fine. What less flattering symbol would a Kuwaiti take this gesture to be? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. Giving gifts is a common sign of friendship, love and respect in just about all cultures. However, what the gift is can carry very different meanings. Which gift, which may be harmless in Britain, is a symbol of death in China? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. You may have been told when you were younger that you shouldn't talk with your mouth full. Eating habits are viewed very differently by different cultures. At a British dinner table it would be seen as rude to slurp your food and drink. In which country is slurping a compliment? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. When both middle and index fingers are held up in the USA it is seen as representing "V for victory" regardless of whether you palm is facing towards or away from you. However, in the UK, what is the intention of a person doing "the V-sign" with the back of their hand pointing towards you? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Which physical gesture, commonly recognised in the western world as an affirmative, can be found vulgar and offensive in places such as the Middle East and parts of Greece?

Answer: The "thumbs-up"

There is an increasing debate over the origin of the "thumbs-up" gesture. Although originally thought to have come from the decision made in the Roman Coliseum as to whether a gladiator should live or die, there is little evidence of this. Some believe the widespread use of the hand action to be much more recent, coming from World War 2 pilots who would signal to each other whilst in mid-flight.

Either way when someone in most western countries has their thumb up they tend to mean "yes" or "good job".

In parts of Greece and Italy the thumbs-up gesture tends to carry the same crude sexual connotations as that of the "middle finger" and so it is not recommended that you hitch-hike in Sardinia with your thumb erect.
Some countries in the Middle East see the sign as one of the most offensive gestures and can become incredibly insulted by an unbeknownst outsider.
It has even been said that the negative meaning of this gesture can be misinterpreted by people in English speaking countries such as Australia, thus showing that a seemingly simple positive gesticulation is not always taken well.
2. Open displays of anger are becoming more and more common in many countries, even in Britain - a country known for its emotional restraint. Actions such as pointing aggressively, scrunching your face and raising your voice will make most people think you are angry. However, if you were to display these gestures in Kenya what are the locals most likely to think?

Answer: You are mentally ill

Open anger is commonly used nowadays to assert your authority, such as in a business environment. Such displays can also motivate people to perform better. As society becomes more casual the displays of emotion (such as anger) are becoming more frequent.

Gestures which would normally go un-noticed can cause a large reaction in some African cultures. Holding your hand out at shoulder level with your fingers spread (e.g. whilst yawning) would be seen as very rude by a Nigerian and maintaining eye contact in Zimbabwe will make you seem strange and impolite.
3. When taking a picture you may see people motioning the "rabbit ears" sign behind another person's head. In countries such as Britain this is done in a harmless, playful manner. However, when done to a Brazilian man what are you seen to be suggesting?

Answer: That he has an adulterous wife

The playful "rabbit ears" are seen in countries such as Brazil, Greece, Turkey, Romania, Russia and Hungary to identify the recipient as a "cuckold" (a man with an adulterous wife).
There are many theories about the origin of this gesture, one of which is the story of the Minotaur - Pasiphae was unfaithful to her husband (King Minos of Crete) as she had relations with a white bull, and then gave birth to the Minotaur. The "ears" in this instance are seen as "horns" and are a reminder of Pasiphae's infidelity.

As well as in Britain and the USA, countries such as Portugal, Cuba, Italy and Mexico also recognise the "bunny ears" as a childish joke. However, even in our own culture this "childish joke" can cause problems. When the gesture was done by a young boy behind Cherie Blair (wife of ex-PM Tony Blair) in 2006 there was a police investigation where Blair was questioned after motioning to slap the boy in jest.
4. What act, seen as homosexual in westernised countries, is a very common sign of friendship in India, Muslim countries and African countries?

Answer: Two men holding hands

This Eastern sign of friendship has become more widely publicised recently such as in the meeting between Saudi Prince Abdullah and US President George Bush. In the eyes of many westerners the sight of Muslim or African men holding hands is therefore becoming less remarkable.

Perhaps the most similar action in the western culture is the hand-shake greeting. Hand-shakes themselves vary greatly from culture to culture. In many countries men will only shake with their right hands. If their right hand is dirty Senegalese people will offer their right wrist to guests and acquaintances before shaking with their left hand. Slight differences in handshakes can also be noticed such as in Egypt, where it is expected that you touch the other person's elbow after shaking hands.
5. Surely a nod is a universal sign for "yes"? No. In Greece only a downward nod means yes and an upward nod accompanied by a sucking or clicking sound means no. So careful when answering questions! What other gesture in Greece can be used to say "yes"?

Answer: Tilting your head from side to side

Likewise a simple shake of the head will not always tell someone "no". In India if you were to shake your head after being asked a question you would not be saying "no" but rather "I find what you are saying interesting". This is the famous "Indian head waggle" which is very common in Indian culture but its purpose is not entirely known by westerners.

If asked a more complex question such as "where is the main square?" Do not point in the direction of their desired destination as many countries see this as rude and disrespectful. If you are not fluent in the native language it is often best to motion towards the square with an open palm.
6. One thing which is shared by almost all cultures is the annoyance and inconvenience caused by camera happy tourists. However, some cultures react to different extremes. In rural Ghana, what was the reaction of the first locals who had their picture taken by explorers?

Answer: Fear - the Ghanaians thought they were trying to steal their souls

The reactions of cultures in this case may seem very different but are in fact very similar. The annoyance and common utterance of "bloody tourist" is often due to the feeling of intrusion of the land these people live in. Likewise, in Ghana, taking a picture would also be seen as intrusion, but on their self instead of their land and so it brings about a more extreme reaction.

Also, in cultures such as small African tribes it is common to have more extreme emotional responses brought about by gestures as there are likely to be more superstitions. Less can be explained by the media and science and so relatively foreign objects such as cameras can be viewed as evil and soul-stealing objects.
7. The "OK" sign made by forming a circle with your thumb and forefinger is generally used by Britons and Americans to tell each other that everything is fine. What less flattering symbol would a Kuwaiti take this gesture to be?

Answer: The evil eye

Although this would not necessarily be offensive to the Kuwaiti (or other inhabitants of the Middle-East) it would not win you many friends as you would then be associated with evil.

On the other hand if you were to make the "OK" gesture to a German, Turk or Greek this may be very offensive. The circular shape made suggests to the recipient that they are a part of the body which may resemble that shape and, by association, are homosexual.

Nevertheless, the gesture continues to have the same positive meaning in both Britain and the USA. It is often used to compliment a meal as speaking with one's mouth full is seen as rude in these westernised cultures. It is also a common gesture in scuba diving to tell others you are fine as the "thumbs-up" is taken to mean "ascend".
8. Giving gifts is a common sign of friendship, love and respect in just about all cultures. However, what the gift is can carry very different meanings. Which gift, which may be harmless in Britain, is a symbol of death in China?

Answer: Clocks

It would also be unwise to give a Chinese person any gift which comes in groups of four, as four is unlucky in Chinese culture, much like the number thirteen in western cultures.

One common problem when in other countries is choosing the correct flowers to give as gifts. If you choose the wrong type/colour of flower you may cause panic as each country seems to have their own flower associated with death and funerals. In Brazil these would be purple blooms, in Scandinavia it is white roses, Latvia is red flowers and France is white lilies and chrysanthemums.
9. You may have been told when you were younger that you shouldn't talk with your mouth full. Eating habits are viewed very differently by different cultures. At a British dinner table it would be seen as rude to slurp your food and drink. In which country is slurping a compliment?

Answer: Japan

In Japan, if you slurp your food it is a sign that you are enjoying it.

In Egypt it is said that you should not eat all of the food on your plate and that you should eat finger food with your right hand. The practice of eating with only your right hand is common in all Muslim countries as well as India as the left hand is used for other things, such as personal hygiene.

If sitting cross-legged whilst eating (or for any activity) it is suggested that you should not have the soles of your feet pointing in the general direction of anyone else as this is a serious affront to Muslims. Exposing the soles of your feet can also cause offence in Russia. Finally, when in a Buddhist country it is important to not have the soles of your feet pointing in the direction of a statue of Buddha as this is frowned upon.
10. When both middle and index fingers are held up in the USA it is seen as representing "V for victory" regardless of whether you palm is facing towards or away from you. However, in the UK, what is the intention of a person doing "the V-sign" with the back of their hand pointing towards you?

Answer: To insult you

In the UK, when "the V-sign" is made with your palm facing the person you are signalling to you are again displaying "V for victory". Americans must be careful when visiting the UK or Australia to have their hand facing the right direction so not to offend the locals as George Bush Senior did during his visit to Australia in 1992.

Likewise one of the most widely recognised hand gestures in the world is the raising of the middle finger (also known as "the finger"). This causes serious offense in most cultures it is displayed to. In the Middle-East a common insult is a variation of "the finger" as it is inverted to suggest that the recipient is impotent.

I hope you enjoyed this quiz and would give it the "thumbs-up", the "A-OK" and "the nod"...the good versions.
Source: Author doublemm

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor Bruyere before going online.
Any errors found in FunTrivia content are routinely corrected through our feedback system.
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