Thursday, February 23, 2012

Without Words

We've all been reprimanded with the phrase "actions speak louder than words" at one point or another.  And if you're me, your parents cleverly amended this idiom to say "and yours are screaming so loud I can't hear anything else."  In Colombia, this is no exception; sometimes actions can be more effective communication than speaking.

Just as in any culture, there is a unspoken language in Colombia that I find intriguing.  Ever since I arrived I have been fascinated by the little differences in body language that a non-native would notice, that most Colombians take for granted.  For example, beckoning someone to come toward you requires a palm down clawing sweep of the hand versus the North American "come hither" palm-up style.  (Incidentally, the palm-up version is used for animals and therefore offensive here.)

The following video was posted on a friend's Facebook wall recently and I couldn't help but laugh out loud at that fact that some of these have become commonplace for me.  I don't necessarily use them, but when I see people on the street or even in my classroom bust out a "neck cut" or a "lip point," I no longer consider it strange.



It should be noted that my maid is the "'Grave' Floppy Palm" champion and I will confidently pit her against anyone when it comes down to it.  I'm constantly impressed that her hand doesn't fly away, detaching from her wrist bones, with the vigor she utilizes while shaking it back and forth.

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