Gesture Dictionary – A to B

Journal of Linguistic Anthropology Number 14 Issue 2

A Repertoire of South African Quotable Gestures
Heather Brookes


Gesture Dictionary
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

arrest
phakata (Is = Iscamtho)
Undersides of both wrists are tapped together. Hands are made into fists.

arse (Fat arse)
Dibono tse kgolo (S = Sotho)
Hand is held out behind buttocks.

balls (Your balls are hanging)
Ulengisitse masende (S)
Forearm held up. Hand dangles and swings side ways.

balls (Your balls are getting harder)
A ya tiyatiya (S)
One hand held up with palm facing upwards. Slightly curved and spread fingers are moved in and out as if squeezing.

beard
ntshebe (Z = Zulu)
Palm of hand and fingers strokes cheek and chin downwards once.

beat
keqa (Is)
First finger is flicked against thumb and second finger held together at the tips.

beat
shaya (Z) shapa (S)
Fist held up with knuckles pointing away from the gesturer.

beat
shaya (Z) shapa (S)
One fist is hit diagonally downwards into palm of other hand.

beer [home brewed]
sqo/shake-shake (Is)
Hands held as if holding a large pot and rotated gently as if mixing the contents.

bewitch
loya (S) (Z)
Wrist, with palm facing up and fingers slightly curved, is placed just below mouth level. Gesturer blows across hand.

boast (He/she is boasting)
Ushaya dithopa (Is)
Both hands are held up. Second fingers and thumbs make several clicking sounds.

break
phula (Z)
Fists held together in front of the torso and turned sideways so knuckles meet as if breaking something in two.

breasts (Big breasts)
Matswele a kgolo (S)
Hands held over chest.

burn
tjhesa (S) lighta (Is)
First finger and thumb are held together at tips as if holding a match and drawn along palm of other hand. Then the hand holding the match makes a throwing action.

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