Monday, 28 February 2011

Chinky-chonk eyes

You know that children's song, "Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes"? Where, each time you sing the song, you remove one extra word and just point to your heads, or shoulders, or knees and toes... 

In my portuguese lesson the other day, we were talking about Liberdade and my teacher said to me, "You don't look ". Now I know with her gesture she meant 'asian / chinese / whatever from the Far East' because she did that thing when you replace a word with a gesture / or with pointing....she put her index fingers to the side of her eyes and pulled backwards. Talk about stating the obvious... yes, I am Chinese. It's not news to me! Yes, there is a word for Asian here in Brazil but I have never heard it used - it's like this special game (like the Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes song) that I've finally worked out. 

Now it's not the first time I've been told the same thing, in exactly the same way and it always takes me a split-second to remember that I'm in Brazil and it no one means any offence by it. I certainly don't take offence. I believe when people say things or do things, in general, it's all should be interpreted in the  context it is being said in. 

I did take a moment to explain to my teacher that if you did that in some other countries that it would be considered pretty offensive and is rarely done (maybe by a 7 year old in the school playground...) but she assured me here it was very common here, and not considered rude at all. I think there must be loads of gestures that would be considered rude in one culture but possibly the mean the opposite in another!

"Yes, I'm a !" - no doubt about it, I have the eyes to prove it as everyone here keeps telling me.

1 comment:

  1. it seems the gesture is only offensive in english speaking countries.