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How to swear in foreign languages

How to be Insulting with Gestures

The British have never gone in for gestures in a big way. Apart from the few basics which we pick up in the playground, or from parents in their unguarded moments, the language of hand gestures has largely passed us by. But since entering the Common Market the need for gestures of many different sorts has become acute. Not only does everyone living south of the Loire seem to possess a diverting range for every shade of emotion and passion, but the British abroad and at EEC meetings need to understand and use the same gestures, just to keep their end up.

To indicate that the bill is too much, or that somebody is trying to pull a fast one in general: Point a couple of fingers at your temple as if about to shoot yourself.

To tell someone to get lost, particularly if they have won an argument: Close your eyes, look down at the ground, raise both hands in front and level with your forehead and shake your hands vigorously as if driving away an unpleasant smell.

To the motorist who nearly runs you down. Bend at the waist. Point one hand at your bottom and the other at the offending driver.

As a general expression of disgust. Adopt a look of outraged displeasure (usually with an open mouth). Hold both hands, fingers pointing up, either side of your head and slightly to the front and shake them very slightly and very fast.

As a means of emphasizing a complaint, or getting out of a traffic offence. Adopt the same expression of outraged displeasure but this time hold the hands at waist height, sticking out from your elbows, which should be held in to your ribs. Again, move the hands up and down fast and furiously.


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