|Rajnikanth - Tamil Movie |
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Knowing the fact that gestures have different meanings and purposes in different culture, I started to investigate one particular hand gesture which I found completely different. I never saw people from any other cultures especially people from other parts of India making this gesture in exactly the same way. It’s a typical gesture that Tamil men and women make during face to face conversation. One of my colleagues turned close friend makes this gesture a lot of time during conversation so I could pick enough details about same from very close distance.
I was very intrigued to observe this gesture at very first time because I really didn’t know that exactly why native Tamil people make this gesture. After few instances, I realized that a Tamil person makes this gesture only while asking (seriously) or emphasizing something. Finally, true nonverbal purpose behind the gesture was disclosed. Even though I no longer find this gesture as an offensive or weird, as people from other cultures might assume it to be, investigating it further became necessary. Why and how this particular gesture might have evolved at first place?
As per my own speculation, this gesture might have evolved out of a very normal yet an effectively threatening practice which ancestors might have developed. Perhaps, they might have become used to ask questions by holding a tool or weapon e. g. chopper, knife or stick to bring seriousness in conversation (Enough is enough! Now come to the point.). My own strong speculation is that it might be tightly related with agricultural/occupational background of Tamil community. People carrying and using ARUVAL (handy chopping tool with a long and thick steel blade which is curved at it outer end) can be watched to shake their clenched fist over the tool (by jutting out thumb) same way during conversation to emphasize or put stress on something during face to face conversation.
|Aruval - a tool and weapon|
Not only cultural but historical, social, educational and genetic aspects also influence the way certain group of people gesticulates normally and unconsciously (during conversation). There can be many distinctive gestures people from different cultures might be making. What all we need to do is to pick and analyze them in different contexts than jumping into misinterpretation. So next time you watch any distinctive gesture, please check its cultural, social and geographical background first. Feel free to write an email to me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
[An article was posted in world's largest English daily Times of India on 9th June, 2014. Senior Editor from daily's office had contacted me to write an investigative write-up. Follow this link to read same.]
1) Words and gestures are alike 2) Basic Gestures: Best Survival Tools for Travelers 3) Gestures - Are they learned or genetic?