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English Conversation: The Meaning of Hand Gestures

September 5, 2016

 

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Hello. My name is Emma, and in today's video, I am going to teach you

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all about how we use our hands in English.

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So there are many ways we use our hands in English. I'm going to

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teach you a lot of different ways we use them. A lot of students get very confused with this,

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because the way we use our hands varies from culture to culture, so what we do in Canada

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and England and the U.S. might be very different than with what you do in your country. Okay?

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So pay close attention to these differences.

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So to start with, let's look at: "knock on wood".

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If you're living in an English-speaking country,

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you may have noticed sometimes people have a wooden object or a desk, a table, something

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made of wood, and they knock on it.

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Okay? You might wonder: "What does this mean, knock on wood?"

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In English tradition, if you say something good, for example:

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"I did very, very well on my test. I killed my test. I did amazing on my test",

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you might knock on wood to make sure that you don't jinx it. Okay?

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I'll give you another example.

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Imagine if I want to go on a picnic, and I'm a little afraid about rain, I might say:

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"Oh, you know, today's supposed to be a very sunny day. Knock on wood."

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I'm knocking on wood to prevent rain. Okay? So it's a superstition

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we do in order to kind of protect ourselves from the

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opposite happening. Okay? One last example:

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-"How did your interview go? How did your job interview go?"

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-"Oh, it went well." [Knocks] Okay,

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so that's why we knock on wood, it's a superstition.

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All right, let's look at some of these other ones. "Quotes".

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A lot of students have asked me: "What does this mean?"

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Okay? So, for example, somebody might say:

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"Yeah, she's beautiful."

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Or: "He's really smart."

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This kind of has a sarcastic tone to it. It means somebody

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has said somebody is beautiful, but you don't believe it. Or somebody has said somebody

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is smart, but you don't believe it. So if you hear someone saying something, and you're,

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you know, pretty much using their words but you don't believe it, you can do quotes. Okay?

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Another example: "Yeah that movie was awesome."

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Okay? So it means you don't believe it.

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English is fun. Your teachers might tell you English is fun.

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When you're talking to your friends,

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you might say: "English is fun", if you don't believe it.

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All right, the next one: "crazy". All right? In English, if we think someone is crazy,

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we go...

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Okay?

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So, for example: "That guy, he's very..." [Clicks tongue]

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It means he's very crazy. Okay?

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"Fingers crossed". A lot of the times in English, we take our fingers and we cross them, and

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we go like this. This means we're hoping something happens. Okay? So, for example:

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I hope you like this video, fingers crossed.

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Or: I hope I did well on the test, fingers crossed. Okay?

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So this means you hope something is happening.

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Now, this is a little different from if you take your finger and you put it behind your back.

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If you take your finger... Your fingers crossed and you put it behind your back,

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it means you're telling a lie. So, for example:

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"Oh, I loved the movie you made. The movie you made was incredible."

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If my fingers are behind my back, it means I'm lying to you.

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"I never talk to that guy."

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Okay? Fingers behind my back, it means I'm lying. Okay?

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Now, this one you might know, I think it's a very common one:

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"OK". It can also mean:

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"nice work" or "A-OK". So that means something has gone well.

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We have this one which is a very rude one. This, which means...

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And sorry, I'm not doing this to you; I'm just teaching it.

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This means "up yours", which pretty much in English means

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"fuck you". Okay? So if you ever see somebody going like that, it's not polite.

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It means up yours or fuck you.

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Oh, we have one... Two more. "Peace sign". Okay, when we're talking about peace in English,

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we often go: "Peace."

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So this is against war. In the 1960s, there were people called Hippies,

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they were always going: "Peace." This is very different than the V sign, this.

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Peace is like this, the V sign is like this. The V sign is something that is almost the same

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as this. In England, in Australia, in New Zealand, if you do this to somebody, you're

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pretty much telling them: "Fuck you." Okay? So be careful. "Peace", versus "Fuck you."

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Finally: "money". Okay?

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In English, when we're talking about money, we often go like this.

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So, for example: "Do you have money? I need some money?"

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Okay? So we just take our fingers

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and we just rub them together.

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Okay, we have this, devil's horns, also known as "rock on".

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So whenever you go... If you like music, a lot of the times if you go to a rock concert, you go like this, you do this

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when you like the music. Okay? And it means "rock on". So this one has to do with music.

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Okay, "come here". In Western culture, when we want somebody to come, we go...

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This is different than in other cultures. Some cultures, it's like this.

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We don't do that in Western culture. Our hand is up, and we... We call forward.

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If we want someone to hurry, we might go...

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Okay? So we use that to say: "Come here."

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We also have... This is sometimes almost like

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a negative "come here", like you're in trouble, if I go, I take my fingers,

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I have just the one up and I go...

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It means: "Come here", but usually parents will do this or maybe

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your boss, and sometimes... Well, it often means you're in trouble or there's a problem.

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Okay?

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Okay, "me". Now, in different cultures, we point to different areas of our self when

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we're talking about ourselves. In Western culture, we point to our chest.

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Me. In some cultures, people point to their noses. Me.

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In Western culture, we don't do that; we point to our chest. Me.

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Okay? We also have:

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"I don't know",

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or "I don't understand", or "I don't care."

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Okay? So I shrug can mean "I don't know/I don't care."

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"Please/I beg you".

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If you want somebody to do something, you can put your hands together,

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like this, and say: "Please, please, please. I beg you. Please keep practicing English.

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Please keep watching engVid." Okay?

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So that's something we can do to mean "please"

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or "I beg you", which is pretty much the same thing.

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Okay, this one: "shoot me now". Shoot is what you do with a gun,

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so we take our gun, and

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we just pretend to... [Shooting noise].

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Okay? Shoot me now. We often do this when we're

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bored. Okay? So if you're watching a very boring... If you have a very boring class,

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or somebody is... You're watching something very boring, you might say: [Shooting noise],

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which means: "Please kill me. Shoot me now." Or if something is really terrible, like maybe

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you did really bad on an assignment: "Ah, please shoot me now."

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Finally we have:

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"call me". Okay? This means:

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"Call my cellphone or call my telephone."

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Okay? So now let's look at some more expressions we use with our hands, some more gestures,

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and what they mean in English.

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Okay, so the next expression I want to teach you with your hands is:

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"It went over my head."

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Okay? So it's when you go: "Whoo".

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What this means is that something is so difficult, and

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complex, and confusing, you don't understand.

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So, for example, when I think about math,

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whoo,

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it means math is very difficult; I don't understand it. Or if I think about, you know,

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certain science principles, maybe, you know, I might not understand them, so

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it goes over my head. It means I don't understand because it's too difficult.

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I hope you don't do this,

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but some of you might think about English,

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whoo. Okay?

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Or English grammar, and that means

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it's so difficult it went over my head.

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Okay, we also have "thumbs up".

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You do this if something is good.

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In some cultures, I think it might mean something different,

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but in Western culture, this means good.

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We also have "thumbs down", which means bad. Okay? So:

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"How was your presentation?"

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It means-okay-"It was terrible."

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Okay? We have:

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Shh. "Be quiet." Shh.

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We also have: "What?" This means the opposite; it means

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"speak louder".

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Okay? "I can't hear you, please speak louder."

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Okay, the next one: You're dead, is when you take your finger and you go: "Kee".

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Okay? So if you want to tell somebody they're dead: "Kee". Okay.

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We also have another threat. If somebody makes you really angry... Well, I'm not saying to

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do this, but if you see someone go like this, shaking their fist, and they have a very angry

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face, like... It means:

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"I'll get you", or it can also mean, like, you know, "Fuck you."

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Okay? And it's done high up.

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Okay. Now, one thing we do in English, this, can mean two things. If you see the police officer

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and they have their gun out, and you go: "Whoa!" This can mean: "Don't shoot."

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Okay? "Don't shoot your gun."

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It can also mean: "Relax." Okay? "Calm down." So, if somebody

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is very angry at you, if somebody's yelling at you, they're very angry: "Whoa!" Okay?

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It means: "Whoa, calm down" or "relax".

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Okay, this is an important one. It means "let's drink".

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Okay? So I might say to somebody:

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"Hey, today, let's get beer or let's drink."

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If you point to somebody, though, and if you go:

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"That guy", [clicks tongue],

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depending on how you do your face, it can also mean

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that person drinks too much. So when you go like this, it usually has to do with alcohol.

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It can mean either: "Yeah, let's drink." or

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"That guy, he drinks too much; he's an alcoholic."

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Okay? Next, we have the word "hitch-hike".

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Hitch-hike is when you need to get somewhere, so you

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put your thumb out and you're on the road, and hopefully if you do this, a car will come

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and pick you up. So it's a way to travel. When you don't have transportation, you can

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put your thumb out if there's a road, and somebody in a car may pick you up. That's

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called hitch-hiking. Okay? So in some cultures something like this is rude; in English if

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you're walking on the street and you do this, it means: "Please pick me up in your car."

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Okay, this one is also a very, very important one. If you go to a restaurant and you want

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to pay for your meal, sometimes the waitress or the server, they take a very long time

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to come, so what you can do is you can make eye contact with your waiter or waitress,

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and you can go...

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Okay? So you pretend this is a pen, this is a paper, that means:

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"Cheque, please." or "The bill, please."

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So you don't even have to say anything; you can just look.

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It means: "Please give me the bill."

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Okay, if you want something done fast, we say: "Snap, snap."

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Snap, snap means do it quickly, do it very fast. Okay?

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You know, I finished my homework snap, snap. It means

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I did it very quickly.

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Or: "Get me a coffee." [Snaps fingers] Snap, snap.

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"Get me a coffee very quickly."

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Okay, we have this one: "go away".

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Okay? So, you know, our... Our... The back of our hand,

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and it pushes away.

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Okay, this one you might see if you ever watch the Oscars or some sort of award ceremony,

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maybe a baseball game or a hockey game, you might see somebody clasp their hands together,

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so they put their hands together and they shake them, and they shake them. Okay?

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This means: "Yay, we won." Okay? "We won the award."

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or "Yay, I won the game. We won the hockey game."

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So this is kind of victory or, you know: "We won, we won."

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Okay, the next one: "blah, blah". In English, "blah, blah" means...

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Well, it doesn't really mean anything. We use it when someone is talking too much,

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and we say: "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." Okay?

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So it just means a person is talking too much. So we might take our hand