English Conversation: The Meaning of Hand Gestures
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Hello. My name is Emma, and in today's video, I am going to teach you
all about how we use our hands in English.
So there are many ways we use our hands in English. I'm going to
teach you a lot of different ways we use them. A lot of students get very confused with this,
because the way we use our hands varies from culture to culture, so what we do in Canada
and England and the U.S. might be very different than with what you do in your country. Okay?
So pay close attention to these differences.
So to start with, let's look at: "knock on wood".
If you're living in an English-speaking country,
you may have noticed sometimes people have a wooden object or a desk, a table, something
made of wood, and they knock on it.
Okay? You might wonder: "What does this mean, knock on wood?"
In English tradition, if you say something good, for example:
"I did very, very well on my test. I killed my test. I did amazing on my test",
you might knock on wood to make sure that you don't jinx it. Okay?
I'll give you another example.
Imagine if I want to go on a picnic, and I'm a little afraid about rain, I might say:
"Oh, you know, today's supposed to be a very sunny day. Knock on wood."
I'm knocking on wood to prevent rain. Okay? So it's a superstition
we do in order to kind of protect ourselves from the
opposite happening. Okay? One last example:
-"How did your interview go? How did your job interview go?"
-"Oh, it went well." [Knocks] Okay,
so that's why we knock on wood, it's a superstition.
All right, let's look at some of these other ones. "Quotes".
A lot of students have asked me: "What does this mean?"
Okay? So, for example, somebody might say:
"Yeah, she's beautiful."
Or: "He's really smart."
This kind of has a sarcastic tone to it. It means somebody
has said somebody is beautiful, but you don't believe it. Or somebody has said somebody
is smart, but you don't believe it. So if you hear someone saying something, and you're,
you know, pretty much using their words but you don't believe it, you can do quotes. Okay?
Another example: "Yeah that movie was awesome."
Okay? So it means you don't believe it.
English is fun. Your teachers might tell you English is fun.
When you're talking to your friends,
you might say: "English is fun", if you don't believe it.
All right, the next one: "crazy". All right? In English, if we think someone is crazy,
So, for example: "That guy, he's very..." [Clicks tongue]
It means he's very crazy. Okay?
"Fingers crossed". A lot of the times in English, we take our fingers and we cross them, and
we go like this. This means we're hoping something happens. Okay? So, for example:
I hope you like this video, fingers crossed.
Or: I hope I did well on the test, fingers crossed. Okay?
So this means you hope something is happening.
Now, this is a little different from if you take your finger and you put it behind your back.
If you take your finger... Your fingers crossed and you put it behind your back,
it means you're telling a lie. So, for example:
"Oh, I loved the movie you made. The movie you made was incredible."
If my fingers are behind my back, it means I'm lying to you.
"I never talk to that guy."
Okay? Fingers behind my back, it means I'm lying. Okay?
Now, this one you might know, I think it's a very common one:
"OK". It can also mean:
"nice work" or "A-OK". So that means something has gone well.
We have this one which is a very rude one. This, which means...
And sorry, I'm not doing this to you; I'm just teaching it.
This means "up yours", which pretty much in English means
"fuck you". Okay? So if you ever see somebody going like that, it's not polite.
It means up yours or fuck you.
Oh, we have one... Two more. "Peace sign". Okay, when we're talking about peace in English,
we often go: "Peace."
So this is against war. In the 1960s, there were people called Hippies,
they were always going: "Peace." This is very different than the V sign, this.
Peace is like this, the V sign is like this. The V sign is something that is almost the same
as this. In England, in Australia, in New Zealand, if you do this to somebody, you're
pretty much telling them: "Fuck you." Okay? So be careful. "Peace", versus "Fuck you."
Finally: "money". Okay?
In English, when we're talking about money, we often go like this.
So, for example: "Do you have money? I need some money?"
Okay? So we just take our fingers
and we just rub them together.
Okay, we have this, devil's horns, also known as "rock on".
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
when you like the music. Okay? And it means "rock on". So this one has to do with music.
Okay, "come here". In Western culture, when we want somebody to come, we go...
This is different than in other cultures. Some cultures, it's like this.
We don't do that in Western culture. Our hand is up, and we... We call forward.
If we want someone to hurry, we might go...
Okay? So we use that to say: "Come here."
We also have... This is sometimes almost like
a negative "come here", like you're in trouble, if I go, I take my fingers,
I have just the one up and I go...
It means: "Come here", but usually parents will do this or maybe
your boss, and sometimes... Well, it often means you're in trouble or there's a problem.
Okay, "me". Now, in different cultures, we point to different areas of our self when
we're talking about ourselves. In Western culture, we point to our chest.
Me. In some cultures, people point to their noses. Me.
In Western culture, we don't do that; we point to our chest. Me.
Okay? We also have:
"I don't know",
or "I don't understand", or "I don't care."
Okay? So I shrug can mean "I don't know/I don't care."
"Please/I beg you".
If you want somebody to do something, you can put your hands together,
like this, and say: "Please, please, please. I beg you. Please keep practicing English.
Please keep watching engVid." Okay?
So that's something we can do to mean "please"
or "I beg you", which is pretty much the same thing.
Okay, this one: "shoot me now". Shoot is what you do with a gun,
so we take our gun, and
we just pretend to... [Shooting noise].
Okay? Shoot me now. We often do this when we're
bored. Okay? So if you're watching a very boring... If you have a very boring class,
or somebody is... You're watching something very boring, you might say: [Shooting noise],
which means: "Please kill me. Shoot me now." Or if something is really terrible, like maybe
you did really bad on an assignment: "Ah, please shoot me now."
Finally we have:
"call me". Okay? This means:
"Call my cellphone or call my telephone."
Okay? So now let's look at some more expressions we use with our hands, some more gestures,
and what they mean in English.
Okay, so the next expression I want to teach you with your hands is:
"It went over my head."
Okay? So it's when you go: "Whoo".
What this means is that something is so difficult, and
complex, and confusing, you don't understand.
So, for example, when I think about math,
it means math is very difficult; I don't understand it. Or if I think about, you know,
certain science principles, maybe, you know, I might not understand them, so
it goes over my head. It means I don't understand because it's too difficult.
I hope you don't do this,
but some of you might think about English,
Or English grammar, and that means
it's so difficult it went over my head.
Okay, we also have "thumbs up".
You do this if something is good.
In some cultures, I think it might mean something different,
but in Western culture, this means good.
We also have "thumbs down", which means bad. Okay? So:
"How was your presentation?"
It means-okay-"It was terrible."
Okay? We have:
Shh. "Be quiet." Shh.
We also have: "What?" This means the opposite; it means
Okay? "I can't hear you, please speak louder."
Okay, the next one: You're dead, is when you take your finger and you go: "Kee".
Okay? So if you want to tell somebody they're dead: "Kee". Okay.
We also have another threat. If somebody makes you really angry... Well, I'm not saying to
do this, but if you see someone go like this, shaking their fist, and they have a very angry
face, like... It means:
"I'll get you", or it can also mean, like, you know, "Fuck you."
Okay? And it's done high up.
Okay. Now, one thing we do in English, this, can mean two things. If you see the police officer
and they have their gun out, and you go: "Whoa!" This can mean: "Don't shoot."
Okay? "Don't shoot your gun."
It can also mean: "Relax." Okay? "Calm down." So, if somebody
is very angry at you, if somebody's yelling at you, they're very angry: "Whoa!" Okay?
It means: "Whoa, calm down" or "relax".
Okay, this is an important one. It means "let's drink".
Okay? So I might say to somebody:
"Hey, today, let's get beer or let's drink."
If you point to somebody, though, and if you go:
"That guy", [clicks tongue],
depending on how you do your face, it can also mean
that person drinks too much. So when you go like this, it usually has to do with alcohol.
It can mean either: "Yeah, let's drink." or
"That guy, he drinks too much; he's an alcoholic."
Okay? Next, we have the word "hitch-hike".
Hitch-hike is when you need to get somewhere, so you
put your thumb out and you're on the road, and hopefully if you do this, a car will come
and pick you up. So it's a way to travel. When you don't have transportation, you can
put your thumb out if there's a road, and somebody in a car may pick you up. That's
called hitch-hiking. Okay? So in some cultures something like this is rude; in English if
you're walking on the street and you do this, it means: "Please pick me up in your car."
Okay, this one is also a very, very important one. If you go to a restaurant and you want
to pay for your meal, sometimes the waitress or the server, they take a very long time
to come, so what you can do is you can make eye contact with your waiter or waitress,
and you can go...
Okay? So you pretend this is a pen, this is a paper, that means:
"Cheque, please." or "The bill, please."
So you don't even have to say anything; you can just look.
It means: "Please give me the bill."
Okay, if you want something done fast, we say: "Snap, snap."
Snap, snap means do it quickly, do it very fast. Okay?
You know, I finished my homework snap, snap. It means
I did it very quickly.
Or: "Get me a coffee." [Snaps fingers] Snap, snap.
"Get me a coffee very quickly."
Okay, we have this one: "go away".
Okay? So, you know, our... Our... The back of our hand,
and it pushes away.
Okay, this one you might see if you ever watch the Oscars or some sort of award ceremony,
maybe a baseball game or a hockey game, you might see somebody clasp their hands together,
so they put their hands together and they shake them, and they shake them. Okay?
This means: "Yay, we won." Okay? "We won the award."
or "Yay, I won the game. We won the hockey game."
So this is kind of victory or, you know: "We won, we won."
Okay, the next one: "blah, blah". In English, "blah, blah" means...
Well, it doesn't really mean anything. We use it when someone is talking too much,
and we say: "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." Okay?
So it just means a person is talking too much. So we might take our hand
and go: "Blah, blah, blah, blah", and it means, you know, this is what this person sounds
like, blah, blah. It means they're talking too much,
and we don't really care what they're saying.
This: "loser". A loser is someone who is not cool. Okay?
So a loser is somebody who is not cool.
In the 90s, although some people do this, but really in the 1990s, if you went
like this, it meant... So you make an "L" and you go like that. It meant you were insulting
somebody, it meant you were calling them a loser, or somebody who isn't successful and
who is stupid, pretty much. So if you go like that, it's an insult in English.
It's not so common anymore, but it was something that was very big in the 1990s.
Okay, finally: "anticipation".
Anticipation means we are excited for something. Okay?
So imagine Christmas is coming: "Oo, I can't wait."
Or, you know, the new Ironman movie is coming out:
"Oo, this is so exciting."
You know, I'm going to get to watch another engVid video:
"Oo, I can't wait."
So we use this to mean anticipation or excitement. We're
very excited for something, we can rub our hands together, like this.
Okay, the last one I want to teach you, this. It's from Star Trek,
and it means "live long and prosper".
So for anyone who's a Star Trek fan, this is a very big hand gesture a lot
of people do in English society and I guess worldwide, showing that they're a fan of the
TV show and the movie Star Trek.
So I hope you've enjoyed this video.
Again, we use our hands a lot to communicate.
They say that 80% of language is actually body language,
so it's really important to learn
the different things your hands can do and what they mean,
because in some cultures,
certain things might be offensive; but in other cultures, they're not.
Okay? So it's important to know what is offensive in English,
for example, this is offensive; versus:
What is something that is not offensive, like this?
This is totally fine to do in English. Okay?
So I invite you to come check out our website at www.engvid.com.
There, you can do a quiz
where you can practice what you've learned in this video, and make sure that you've actually
learned it and mastered it. Okay? I hope you've enjoyed this video,
and until next time, I'm excited to see you guys.
And I'll see you later. Take care.