Date: Sat, 29 Nov 1997 18:59:25 +1100
From: Pauline Bryant pbryant[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MACRAE.COM.AU
Subject: Re: "Ich bin ein Berliner"
Duane Campbell wrote:
At 12:37 PM 11/27/97 -0500, you wrote:
When time permits, I'll send along some other examples of gaffes in
communication. Two come to mind now. During his presidency, George Bush
visited Australia, and flashed the V (for Victory) sign when getting off
the plane. I remember the American newspapers explaining the next day
that in Australia that sign is an indecent gesture.
I wonder what the Aussies thought of Churchill.
There are two V signs in Australia. In the V-for-victory sign as used by
Churchill, hold up your index and middle fingers, with the thumb and the
other two fingers folded across the palm. The important thing is to do
this with the palm facing away from the body. Nobody actually does it
any more because it isn't culturally relevant any more, but also because
you might accidentally get it wrong and make the offensive sign.
President Bush can't have known that in Australia if you make the sign
with the palm facing toward the body it is an offensive gesture. He
probably thought it didn't matter which way round you held your hand.
There was much hilarity in the press when the pictures were published.
I vaguely remember reading somewhere that when Churchill created the
V-for-victory sign, one of his staff had to take him aside and explain
to him that he'd better do it with his palm turned outwards, but this
might be apocryphal, dreamt up by an Australian. Is it only in Australia
that the sign with the palm turned inward is offensive?