Special Report: Argentine Hand Gestures
It’s no secret that Argentines are very expressive when they talk. A huge Italian influence has inspired a wide variety of hand gestures and movements that complement spoken conversation. You can play at home! Click on the links below to see my demonstration videos on YouTube (since WordPress doesn’t let me embed videos anymore, I guess).
Montoncitos (“little mountains”) are a favorite way of adding emphasis to what you’re saying. Bring all the fingers of one hand together and bounce your hand up and down two or three times. Varying the pitch of your voice adds even more emphasis. The addition of montoncitos and a change of intonation turns the simple question “Qué querés? / What do you want?” into “Pero QUÉ querés?? / Seriously, tell me, what the hell do you want??”
You can also add emphasis to something by holding your hand palm-down at collarbone height and flicking it loosely outward a couple of times. Use it for statements like “Había un montón de gente! / There were a ton of people there!”, “Qué viaje largo! / What a long trip!” or “Tengo muuuucho que hacer hoy. / I have a lot of stuff to do today.”
In the U.S., servers in restaurants have no problem hinting to you that they would be very much obliged if you could wrap up your meal (and get out) by bringing you your check. However, the only way you will ever get the check in a restaurant in Buenos Aires is if you ask for it. Do this by catching your server’s eye (this is an art in and of itself) and making a quick writing motion with one hand.
To tell someone to be careful, use your index finger to gently tug at the skin under one eye, then peer warningly at the person in question. This can be done silently, but can also be accompanied by a dry “Ojo, eh? / Be careful, huh?”
Get practiced up! Part two coming soon…