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Up yours USA OK

Slate on What Does a "Thumbs Up" Mean in Iraq?.

Here's the body language section (see p. 94, section IV-5) of the Defense Language Institute's own Middle East culture guide. (Via Ben Hammersley.)

language 2003.04.04 link

Comments

The fellow in Slate's photo on the right above sure looks to me like he's using his thumb in the "up yours" sense.

But Miguel over at Ciao has a photo with a thumb that sure looks like it's saying, happy to see you!

In the light of the first casualty and all that, I'm reserving my judgement. Still, I'd say Miguel's little piece and the reports it leads to are the first good news I've heard all week.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle ARROBA io PUNTO com] • 2003.04.05
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember seeing Hussein on TV giving the thumbs up sign. And he meant it in a good way, I'm sure. I think I remember seeing footage of Arafat doing the same.

And the Slate article never explained the context of the photo. Was the person at an anti-Hussein rally giving Hussein the "up yours" thumbs up? Or was he at a pro-Hussein rally giving him the "A-OK" thumbs up sing? If they're using it as evidence, they should certainly say so. I'd be much more relevant than historical sociology on Roman hand gestures.

Miguel [miguel ARROBA centellas PUNTO org] • 2003.04.05
Link of the week! Other "veteran travellers" I've heard from insist they've never heard of a perjorative use, but the people are of different sorts. You also have to account for cross-cultural awareness, as in "hey, those Americans make this gesture to mean A-No. 1 OK! Let's do that, too, so they don't shoot us!" "Yeah, cool, and they won't know that it also means vai tomar no cu! Heh heh. Stupid gringos." I wonder if the gesture was disseminated in any of the leaflet-bombings?

colin brayton [iggy ARROBA hairyeyeball PUNTO net] • 2003.04.05
"After the Gulf conflict, however, Middle Easterners of the Arabian Peninsula adopted this hand movement, along with the OK sign, as a symbol of cooperation toward freedom" [DLI]. That's what you think, buddy.

colin brayton [iggy ARROBA hairyeyeball PUNTO net] • 2003.04.05
I just specifically asked my good friend Moataz (Egyptian, Arab, Muslim) about this. He laughed. The "thumbs up" is ONLY a positive gesture in the Arab world.

miguel • 2003.04.11
Back during the time of the "Iranian Hostage Crisis" (1979), by Iranian friends at the University of Missouri-Columbia used to laugh about the Iranian students pictured in Iran protesting & giving the thumbs-up sign. They cracked up, they said, because Americans probably saw it as a positive expression, while in Iran it was the equivalent of "giving the finger". However, I've noticed it used as a positive gesture in some news coverage I've seen about the Arab world. So, in my mind for now, it is a Persian obscene gesture, not necessarily an Arab obscene gesture.

David Donnell [david punkto donnell cxe verizon punkto net] • 2004.04.04
CORRECTION: Back during the time of the "Iranian Hostage Crisis" (1979), MY Iranian friends at the University of Missouri-Columbia used to laugh about the Iranian students pictured in Iran protesting & giving the thumbs-up sign. They cracked up, they said, because Americans probably saw it as a positive expression, while in Iran it was the equivalent of "giving the finger". However, I've noticed it used as a positive gesture in some news coverage I've seen about the Arab world. So, in my mind for now, it is a Persian obscene gesture, not necessarily an Arab obscene gesture.

David Donnell • 2004.04.04
This is the ultimate disrespect, no wonder we hate george bush.
You will pay fir this infidelity.

Muhummed Ab-jufer wa seem [Fatwaa cxe crapmail punkto com] • 2005.01.03
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