Friday, July 03, 2009

Hand Movements

According to this article in Scientific American hand gestures are correlated to our ability to understand and learn new concepts. The comments on the article make for interesting reading as well. In my culture, gesturing has never been a big part of communication. It would generally be viewed as distracting rather than helpful. I have noticed though that when giving discourses holy men and women do use hand gestures - they are few but highly eloquent. Likewise with artists, performers, musicians and dancers - gestures are part of their language.

At the other end of the spectrum, it is common to see socio-economically depressed people given to elaborate gestures involving hand and body to get their point across - and I say this in the context of Indian society. I would imagine some of the negative connotation associated with gesturing too much while talking stems from here. Folks probably don't want to come across as uncultured, uneducated or impoverished. If the findings reported in the article are correct, I wonder what that would mean for those of us who are culturally conditioned to gesture little or not at all.

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