Sleeve cuts and sausages: hand signals part 1

Posted on April 18th, 2010 by admin

The most obscene gesture in Spain is the forearm jerk, known as el corte de manga, or ‘sleeve cut’. Much favoured by tantrumy footballers, this involves shooting the left arm straight up at a 90 degree angle while whacking your right palm into the elbow joint. The underlying message, which may or may not be uttered, is:  ‘Que te den’, short-hand for something like, ‘Why don’t you take the whole of my arm up your bottom’?Forearm jerk + peineta (2)

For the regular corte de manga, you make a fist with the raised arm, but if you are really miffed with the ref you may throw in a ‘peineta’ (comb thingy that holds a mantilla in place) or ‘butifarra’ (Catalan sausage) for good measure. In other words, you stick your forefinger up out of your fist and get sent off.

In Italy the forearm jerk is called the umbrella gesture, and in France, le bras d’honneur, or arm of honour. In the UK, I’m told, it is used in a more sexual way, but in Germany and Holland, apparently, it carries no bad meaning at all. Hence Real Madrid’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s surprise last year when he was reprimanded for his corte de manga on scoring a goal against Real Zaragoza. The Dutch player pleaded cultural ignorance and said he was just expressing his happiness…

Another gesture much favoured in Mediterranean countries is what the Italians call la mano cornuta (horned hand) and the Spanish, Double hornslos cuernos (the horns). By sticking up your index finger and little finger and holding down the other two fingers with your thumb, you are suggesting that a man’s wife / girlfriend / partner (this IS a macho thing) is unfaithful – in old English, that he ain’t man enough, that he’s a cuckold.  The Real Academia Española defines the horned hombre or cornudo thus: “Dicho de un marido: Cuya mujer le ha faltado a la fidelidad conyugal”. Said of a husband whose wife has failed to be conjugally faithful. Trust the ever-conservative RAE to olympically omit chaps (never mind chapesses) who may be in non-married or non-heterosexual relationships…

According to Desmond Morris in his book The Naked Man (Jonathan Cape, 2008), the horns symbolise the castrated bull, so by giving someone berlusconi_piquethe horns you are calling their manhood, their ‘ballshood’ into question. Is this what Silvio Berlusconi had in mind when he made the horns sign over the head of the then foreign minister Josep Piqué at a European summit meeting in 2002? Or more recently when the Portuguese minister Manuel Pinho caused a right hoo-ha by making a two-handed horned gesture directly at communist party MP Bernadino Soares slap bang in the middle of Parliament? Who knows, but sneaking up a ‘cuernos on someone in a photo has become the thing to do in recent years – even for grown-up heads of state.ministropinho

Not all hand signals are rude, of course. I’ll be talking and illustrating some of these in a later blog.

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One Response to “Sleeve cuts and sausages: hand signals part 1”

  1. Elisenda Says:

    you may like this dictionary:
    http://gamp.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/~ueda/gestos/

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