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?