Friday, April 20, 2012

I Got Your Nose

My mother-in-law is currently visiting, and last week Erin decided to show her the “I got your nose” game.  All good, right?  For those of you not familiar with this game, you gently pinch someone’s nose and then put your thumb between your first and middle finger.  Thumb representing the nose.

I am sure we wowed my mother-in-law with her grandson’s fluency in Turkish.  This innocent game that we grew up with in the Anglo-Sphere is how you flip someone off in Turkey. I am not sure if it is used in other countries or cultures.  It's not something I would really do, but I have not tried to flip anyone off in Dubai, so can't speak for what works in the Middle East.

I did some Googling about the variety of ways to insult people around the globe, and found several funny blog entries about this.  I thought it might be interesting to explain here, but it is quite technical.  Nor would it be as good as one site I found with Jack the Sailor demonstrating various gestures.  If you want to travel and not offend anyone, I suggest you look him up to cover all basis.  Or you could just keep your hands in your pockets.  If this proves to be offensive somewhere, I take no responsibility.  If you choose to insult people in this way, it’s all you.

However, I can advise you that just because another country has their own sign language for flipping someone off, this does not mean that the middle finger does not translate.  I’ve not tested this myself, but I have experienced it first hand.

The first time I was encouraged to drive in Istanbul – three days after I moved there - someone who was in the car “waved” his middle finger to a guy who was driving very badly and almost hit us.  Be sure, the driver of the other car knew what that meant and proceeded to run me off the road onto the very narrow shoulder of the Golden Horn bridge.

I don’t think this was staged to teach me how to drive and gain street smarts in Istanbul.  If so, the guy was a great actor and looked pretty angry as he proceeded to get out of his car and come toward us.   We were out of there as fast as the heavy car with no power steering would allow – screeching tires and all.

I think we can thank Hollywood for this.  It must be the result of all those action movies that has globalized the middle finger.  So, maybe better to take the risk and leave your hands in your pocket.  And do not try to hide anyone’s nose!

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