The Art of Italian Sign Language

Everyone knows that the Italian language is the language of love. Who woman wouldn’t want to be swept off her feet by an Italian man speaking words of love in that distinct Italian accent to her ear? It seems that no matter what they say, their words always sound so sweet and endearing to non-Italian speakers and it’s just so easy to get entangled with every syllable and accentuated vowel they use when speaking their beautiful language. But interestingly enough, there’s more to the Italian language that meets the ear.

Italian Popular Gestures

Apparently, a whole conversation can go through in Italy simply by using your hands and their passion when speaking with their hands are enough to make you understand what they are saying. I got off in Florence to meet up with an old friend of mine who was a local Florentine and gave me a proper lesson of how it is to communicate through hands.

Here are few of the common hand signals Italians use to communicate:

“Beautiful!” “Magnificent!” “Wonderful!” (Usually used when admiring a work of art.)

Make the “okay” sign and hold it about an inch away from the side of your lip, then rub your thumb and index finger together as if twirling your imaginary moustache.

“You’re a clever/cunning person, huh?” (Usually used when you sense that someone is playing a scheme or a prank at you.)

Put the tip of your index finger a few centimetres below your eye and move it slightly up and down, tilt your head toward the side of the hand you used, and raise your eye brows.

“Are you crazy!?” (When you can’t believe what the person is saying or suggesting, simply because you think it’s ridiculous.)

Point to the temples of your head while moving it to form small invisible circles, look confused with your eyes, and wrinkle your forehead.

“Please, try to understand.” “Please calm down.” (Used when trying to calm a person down, or when you’re trying to reiterate what you are explaining in a calm way.)

Put your hands together as if you are going to pray, hold it just below your chest, and move your wrists up and down.

“Perfect!” (Similar to “Beautiful” but just with more emotion and emphasis.)

Do the “okay” sign with your hand and make and imaginary check mark starting in front of your chin going to the side, while you look toward the opposite direction.

Cursing to a person when you’re really angry and frustrated.

When the person you are cursing is near or right in front of you:

Hold your four fingers straight, tuck your thumb, place it under your chin, and brush it outwards in a very snappy way. Of course you would need to have a very mad look on your face while doing this.

When the person you are cursing is walking away from you or is far:

Bring your fingers together, hold it above your head, and move your hand slightly in and out.

“Delicious!” (When you’re really enjoying your food.)

Bring all your fingers together and kiss them while your eyes are closed.

“What is your problem?” “What are you saying?” (When you don’t understand what a person is saying or when you’re frustrated with someone. This is usually what is being done by the person being talked to by the one doing the “Please, try to understand” gesture.)

Bring your fingers together (both hands), place them in front of you, and move it up and down. This is also usually done with a wrinkled forehead and an exasperated look.