Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Rosetta Stone of Brazilian hand gestures

There are many different dialects in this beloved pais o'mine, and I'm not talking about the Amazons. In Brazil, it's all about Hands. My sister-in-law has often said that if you tie up our hands, we'll be rendered mutes.

This is a simple guide to help you navigate the world of Brazilian sign language.

1. The Swipe

Hold your right hand at waist level and without too much arm movement, "swipe" your hand as if wiping a table. This means "to steal."

Ex. Swipe your hand while saying, "We can't find the radio." Indicates that it was stolen.

2. Estou de olho - I'm Watching You.

Pull down one of your lower eye lids a few times in a row. Means that you don't neccessarily believe what someone is telling you, or that you're on the watch.

Ex. Pull down your lower lid while saying, "He says he has to go to the library." You know darn well he has no intention of checking out a book.

3. Lotado - Full

Hold up your right hand to shoulder level, bending elbow. Join all fingers and thumb pointing upwards. Open and close the fingers like a tulip would. This means that the place in question was full to capacity.

Ex. "The party last night was

4. Delicious

Point to the left with your right hand and sweep across mouth, closing it to the thumb on the corner of your lip. This is a quick movement. Indicates that the food was fantabulous.

Ex. "Sister, this lunch was

5. Depois - "After"

Hold up pointer finger on right hand and twirl in a circle perpendicular to your body. This sign is ALWAYS used when wanting to delay something.

Ex. "When can we set that appointment?" Response:

6. Sumiu - "Disappeared"

Left hand faces up with right hand passing over it in a forward "clapping" motion.

Ex. "It's time to take out the garbage. Where did Gustavo go?"

BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL:

7. The Thwack.

A favorite among missionaries, this is hard to master. Hold your right hand with your middle finger and thumb forming an "OK" position. Then "thwack" it down quickly, letting your pointer finger make a slapping sound on the other fingers. It means "working hard" or "lots of effort."

Ex. Appropriate response to, "Whatcha been doing all day?"

I will expect you all to visit soon and converse freely with my neighbors.

18 comments:

janae said...

It took me my entire mission (Portugal) to get the thwack down, and then I lost it within a month of getting home. I can't tell you the kinds of bruises I got on my fingers from practicing! :)

ps. they taught us some of these in the MTC. hilarious!

Lady of Perpetual Chaos said...

I thought the thwack was a gesture for something being cool or funny or something like that. I must have misinterpreted past thwacks.... ;o)

Head Nurse or Patient- you be the judge said...

I have practiced the thwack- but haven't got the knack of it yet- you could also do a list of motions NOT to do- unless you have and I haven't seen it :)

Lara said...

These are cool to read about. And they are so different from the Romanian hand signs, but they have signs for almost everything you listed, and more. We Americans are boring I guess.

Kristina P. said...

I've never even heard of any of these!

DeNae said...

Do you get the Latin 'lip point' down there? "Where is your wife?" Reply comes with kissy lips pointing in the direction of the spouse.

I hate to admit this, but I always interpreted the "thwack" as meaning, "I am a fresh-from-the-plane RM, so while the righteousness quotient is at an all-time high , but we're also looking at a 97% chance of total geekiness."

Annette Lyon said...

That was fascinating. And here I was doing funky gestures to my monitor. (Oh, and I love that you know what the Rosetta Stone is.)

Kazzy said...

Maybe my Portuguese heritage is what makes me a hand talker! I am going to try some of these out!

Kimberly said...

Wow, that is just fascinating!

nikkicrumpet said...

Holy moley it sounds complicated. It think you should show us these gestures on a video so we can get them down :) We wouldn't want to do them wrong and offend anyone...or get beat up for insulting someone accidentally :)

wonder woman said...

wowza. It's like Chinese, with all the different parts of the language to learn.

Abra said...

I can so totally "Thwack" And of course the missionaries would like it... they used to stick their hands under their armpits to make farting noises remember?
Oh, I just read what I wrote and my diet pepsi almost came out my nose... what was I thinking "used to?"

Deb said...

I can't thwack. Your post was fascinating! I love the pulled eye.

Harmony said...

That was really interesting! I'm sure someday when you move back the States you will start several new hand gesture fads...

Justin said...

don't forget the tugging your earlobe "brinco" one...it also means good meal né? Or at least something of quality.

Someday I'll go back and reuse these chic signs...

Shellie said...

I would love to come visit. I'd have a hard time not doing all the Chilean gestures though and I'd be confused. Sort of like when I try to learn Portuguese but it comes out in Spanish instead. Interesting glossary.

KC Mom said...

Oh my gosh...you have me cracking up. I'm visiting from MMB and have been reading some of your posts. You make me want to go to Brazil bad...and practice my skills I've learned on your blog.

Lorraine said...

HA HA HA! The THWACK... I never could get the hang of it, and believe me, I TRIED! Our exchange student did it all of the time. My brother who went on a mission there also figured it out and often let me know how unCOOL I was because I couldn't do it. Great post!