(Pointing with an extended finger is offensive in many cultures.)

Giving a thumbs-up or the OK sign can mean trouble in some parts of the world.

Here are two of the five common American gestures that will get you into hot water in foreign countries.

Don’t Tell Them to Come Hither in Japan.

I tried teaching English in Japan for a couple years, and was trying hard to keep up with Japanese gestures.

One day I beckoned for a student with my index finger. Her mouth dropped open and other students stared.

While in America the “come hither” finger is a perfectly acceptable way to ask someone to come to you, in Japan it’s a highly offensive gesture. I later learned that this gesture isn’t welcome in most Asian countries, and symbolizes death in Singapore.

The Japanese way to beckon someone looks like an American wave, palm out and fingers waving down.

Keep Your Thumbs Down in the Middle East

A friend of mine was once bargaining for trinkets at a street market in Iran, negotiating for a decent price.

Although they couldn’t speak the same language, he and the storekeeper were having an agreeable exchange…until one good ol’ American gesture got him into trouble.

After they agreed on a price, he gave the shopkeeper a hearty thumbs-up. The shopkeeper’s brow crinkled in confusion, then he muttered something in Arabic before turning away.

My friend was baffled until a fellow traveler leaned over and told him that his hand gesture signified that the shopkeeper could stick his price where the sun don’t shine.

In certain parts of the Middle East, thumbs-up is definitely a highly-offensive thumbs-down.

Read the other three common American gestures that might insult the locals

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5 Responses
  1. Knock knock...
    It's me, Sera... ^_^

  2. Anney Says:

    The come hither finger here is also a way to ask someone to come to you. But when done in slow motion it may mean you are seducing someone. lol

  3. Lily Arbee Says:

    Hi Sera!
    Thanks for visiting my blog. Yes, I'm very happy with my new template. It is a makeover by the famous Ladyjava creation. Colour and the top layout my idea. Gold and black are gold colour if put side by side and of course with a little of rich blue.

    Earlier you said you cannot send comments, I think it's ok now, pls try whenever you are free, I need to know. Thanks.

    My dear Sera, what happened to your cbox, I was searching for it to post my comments and cannot find it!

    Take care and have a great week.

  4. Sera Melinda Says:

    Yeah, you're right. Come hither when done in slow motion it may mean you are seducing someone. LOL

  5. Dee Says:

    I love this post. I'm always interested in different cultures and learning these is absolutely my thing.

    I like your new template - artistic! :D

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