In the world of gestures
, one man's "hello" could be another man's "f**k off." So to prevent greeting a foreign stranger by cursing them out, check out Pinkyslang
, the Urban Dictionary
for hand gestures.
In beta right now, users can browse and search for hand gestures, create and submit their own, and add meanings to the pre-existing entries. Soon, the site will suggest similar gestures and let users pick and save their favorites, as well as get alerts when new meanings are added.
The project is the brainchild of Austin resident Jack Thompson, 30, who came up with the idea when he was studying in Italy as a grad student.
"To learn Italian you have to also learn hand gestures, because Italians speak with their hands as well as their mouths," Thompson tells Asylum. "But talking to the other students in my program from all around the world, we discovered that, while almost every culture uses hand gestures to communicate, the same gestures mean different things to different people."
Thompson did some Internet sleuthing and found that there wasn't a single site devoted to hand gestures and their meanings across cultures. He also discovered that there are over 150 different sign languages being used around the world. English Sign Language, for example, is not the same as British or Australian Sign Language.
"There's a great potential for improving understanding between people of all ages and backgrounds, as well as between deaf and non-deaf people," says Thompson, who is currently raising funds
to make Pinkyslang bigger and better. "There's also the less serious side, and just like on Urban Dictionary
, people are always going to take things to the gutter." (See "The Shocker," left).
Check out more vulgar (and clean) gestures from Pinkyslang, after the jump.
"Cowabunga" is a universal gesture used by surfers
to signify hi, peace and love (and all that other hippie nonsense). Called the "Shaka" sign in Hawaii, it's a symbol of friendship, but other U.S. states, particularly Florida, use it to say "hang loose." When held up to your ear like a telephone, it translates to "call me" or "I'll call you." Alternately, when the thumb is held to your mouth to mime smoking, it means "bong on" in ganja-speak -- which presents a problem for potheads
who need to gesture calling their dealer for a hit.
"The Shocker" or "Two in the pink, one in the stink" is an obscene American gesture
. The gesture is mostly used by frat boys; the act is mostly discouraged by women.
What looks like the lesbian sign for "Let's fist" actually means different things depending on where you are. It translates to "This is delicious
" in Turkey, "What the hell?" in Italy (when waved up and down), and references eating in India, where people tend to eat with their hands.
"Live long and prosper" is the Vulcan salute from Star Trek
. It is a typical greeting among virgins
What most people recognize as a symbol for "O.K." varies widely around the world; in can be an insult ("You are a zero" in parts of Europe, "a-hole" among Mediterranean countries and "faggot" in South America), a gang sign (it represents the O.E. gang in Scotland), or a sign of patriotism (it's the national salute in Macedonia, and Finnish soldiers use it to celebrate the end of their service). When the sign is placed over the nose, it means drunk in Europe. And when tilted slightly, it references blowjobs
in Mexico. Taken together, it sounds like the greatest weekend ever.