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Talk to the Hand – Learn Argentine Spanish without Words

Visitors to Argentina may take a bit of time to get their head around some of Argentina’s interesting Argentine customs and practices. The single cheek kiss when greeting people (even strangers), the unique taste of mate and it’s many drinking etiquettes, the love of queueing for anything; and everything and often the most challenging of all for foreign visitors; the language. Unique accents combined with various forms of slang (Lunfardo being the slang spoken in Buenos Aires), combined with the ability to talk at speed without pausing for breath, make Argentine Spanish difficult to master on first arrival.

However, just as you have finally got your head around the accent, and you’re beginning to understand people, whether they be your host family, taxi drivers or some of your new Argentine friends, you realise that there’s a whole other form of communication to master.

The prolific use of hand gestures in Argentina is said to stem from the population’s strong Italian roots, but some are quite unique to Argentina,  so I’ve compiled a quick guide to help you fathom some the most common ones (with Expanish staff members demonstrating):

1)      Hand swipe under chin

Has the potential to be interpreted as a a rude gesture but actually means ‘i dont know’

2)      Lower eye-lid pulled down with index finger

This one is a warning along the lines of ‘Look out

3)      Right hand forming the ‘OK’ sign and making a quick downward motion in front of the chest means ‘Just like that’

4)      When in a restaurant,  making a pinching gesture with a raised hand means you want to order a café cortado (Espresso with bit of steamed milk)

5)      Forward (and repeated) pinching motion with both hands means ‘What’s wrong with you’

This is just a glimpse into the world of Argentine hand gestures, but by doing a Spanish or volunteer program in Buenos Aires you can personally experience them all for yourself.

Becky