VIDEO: Gesticular troubles – Common Gallic gestures you need explaining

VIDEO: Gesticular troubles - Common Gallic gestures you need explaining
Photo: The Local
The French love their gesticulations, in fact that they can barely get through a conversation without some form of arm or hand waving. But some of them need explaining to a foreign eye.

These expressive hand gestures are like a whole other language. Some are obvious, but there are others you need to be in the know to decode.

In the video below we asked Parisians to explain a few of their hand manoeuvres. 

The eye

This one involves pulling your lower eyelid down with one finger It means you don’t believe what someone’s just told you.

Often accompanied with the expression “Mon oeuil” (my eye) it’s similar to the English expression “my foot”, except it actually seems to make sense.

It’s like “unless I see it with my own eyes, I don’t believe it”.

The arm chop

When someone makes a gesture like they’re chopping their wrist with their other hand, gather your stuff because it’s time to go.

And make it quick, the chop is for when you’ve really got to get out of there.  

The limp hand move

Don’t be surprised if a French person starts whipping their hand back and forth in the middle of your story, they’re just being empathetic.

The back and forth hand shake means “oh la la la la la, that’s so bad”, or “that’s crazy”.

The nose fist twist

It might not look like it but the nose twist means “drunk”.

You can use it to say you’re drunk, or jokingly aim it at one of your friends who’s had a bit too much wine.

Some French people we asked told us it’s to do with your nose going red when you drink too much.

The Gallic shrug

Raised shoulders, turned out palms, and a pout if you really want to do the full job.

The Gallic shrug is the pièce de resistance of French gestures and it can mean, well whatever you want it to really: it’s not my fault, I don’t know, I doubt it, there’s nothing I can do … and many many more. 

There are also a few others not included in the video that you might come across such as the “hand over the head”, the “two fingers in the nose” and the “lobster pincers”.


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