As I mentioned in a previous post on Argentine hand gestures, the people here are masters of the art of nonverbal communication. Nearly all Argentine speakers punctuate their conversations with animated facial expressions and/or gesticulations, in contrast with other cultures such as the Japanese, who tend to keep bold hand gestures to a minimum.
I thought it would be fun to highlight a few other commonly used gestures, one of which was discussed at length in the comments section of the other post.
I don't know./I have no clue.
[The chin flick: tilt your head back a bit and sweep the back of your fingers forward from under your chin.]
Unlike its meaning in places such as Italy, where the gesture can be considered quite rude, the chin flick – when used in Argentina – simply signals that the speaker doesn't know the answer to your question.
Behave or else!/Be good or you're gonna get it!
[Place your hand at a 45º angle, and moving your hand from the wrist, make a short, back-and-forth chopping motion in the air.]
A useful gesture to let spouses/children/friends know they're skating on thin ice.
What the hell are you talking about?!/Just who do you think you are?
[Bring all of your fingers and your thumb together with your hand pointing upward. Move your hand up and down at the wrist.]
This hand gesture can actually mean a number of things. Here are some of the comments that readers made regarding its most common meaning and usage:
According to Gabriel from Live from Waterloo: "If you…move your hand up and down, then it means 'What do you mean?' or 'What the f*** is wrong with you?'"
According to Chris from In Patagonia: "…for when the hubs [husband] is way out in left field or just being crazy."
Other meanings for this gesture include:
To indicate that a venue was packed with people [Same gesture but shake your hand vigorously]
To show that you're scared [Same gesture but open and close your fingers]
A special thank you to my friend and English student, Laura, for demonstrating these hand gestures. We had a good laugh together during the photo shoot!