Date: Fri, 3 Oct 1997 15:23:20 -0400 From: Gregory {Greg} Downing Subject: Re: pop one's fingers At 02:19 PM 10/3/97 -0400, you (Robert Ness ) wrote: >Some West Africans, Ghanaians especially, "pop their fingers," as it's >called, by flipping or snapping the wrist so that the index finger "pops" >sharply against the thumb and middle-finger. The gesture expresses >surprise or amazement. I've not seen it done here, or even so referred to, >but like West African tooth-sucking (expressive of contempt) it may have >made it across the Atlantic into the south or the Caribbean. The gesture you describe (where one puts the tips of the thumb and middle-finger together and then snaps the first finger against them by sharply moving the wrist downwards) is universally used in Brasil to express surprise or excitement, positive or negative. Brasilians are unfamiliar with the way people from the US snap fingers (as described by Joan Houston Hall in the very first post in this thread), and I have never seen it done the Brasilian way in the US though that doesn't mean it hasn't been. Anyway, I didn't mention in my prior post on the "finger pop" phrase that the context of the song I cited seems to suggest that the gesture expresses contempt or disdain (i.e., the popper/snapper doesn't care about the person or situation s/he is popping or snapping at). See also OED thrip v. (with citations back to the 16C) and "finger-snap" (under finger n.) for the idea of snapping one's fingers in contempt or to express worthlessness etc. An electronic search of OED2 for various ways that "to *pop* the/one's fingers" might have showed up there yielded nothing. Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]