Gesture Dictionary – R to S

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
rappers
Amarapper (Z)
One or two hands, with fingers hanging loosely but extended, are held out in front at about face height and moved back and forth.
return (I’m coming back)
Ke ya spina (Is)
Hand held out in front of the body, forefinger points down and hand rotates from wrist.
run away
slayza (Is)
Fist, with fingers towards torso and thumb extended, is held stationary in front of the body. Other hand is also held in a fist and thumb extended, but with knuckles facing outwards. Tip of the thumb touches stationery thumb and moves diagonally outwards away from the other hand.
Run
Matha (S)
Arms make running action.
scare
tatazela (Is)
Both hands with fingers splayed are held out in front of the gesturer at the sides with palms facing each other. Slight movement is made back and forth from the wrist.
scared (He’s scared of girls)
Uyasha [You are burning] (Is)
Thumb and first two fingers hold shirt in front of the heart and move in and out. Alternatively hand opens and closes in front of the heart.
scissors
skere (S)
First and second fingers make opening and closing action.
scissors kick
scissors kick (Is)
Two hands with palms facing each other move up and down in opposite directions and then one hand goes back over the shoulder.
secret lover
makwapheni (Z)
One hand placed under opposite armpit.
seven
seven (S) (Z)
First finger and thumb extended.
shut up
Thula (Z) Zipa (Is)
First finger and thumb with tips touching, move across mouth quickly.
sissy (He’s a sissy)
O stjuzana (Is)
Forearms bent with hands held up at chest level on the sides. Hands hang and shoulders are drawn up.
six
six (S) (Z)
Thumb extended.
sleep
gidla (Is)
Hand held up with palm facing towards the side of the head. Head is bent slightly towards the hand.
smoke/cigarette
inkawuza/iduzu (Is)
Forefinger and second finger are held together and tap mouth.
soccer/dribble
diski/penta (Is)
One hand moves down at an angle in one direction and then diagonally down in the opposite direction.
Sorry
Hadi (Is)
Both hands held up with palms facing outwards and fingers slightly apart.
spectacles
mazaza (Is)
First fingers and thumbs held together at tips to form circles in front of eyes.
stab/knife
gwaza/igoni (Z)
Forearm bent up from the elbow with hand at shoulder height in the shape of a fist with thumb and little finger extended. Slight hand movement back and forth.
stink (She/he stinks)
O ya nkga (S)
Hand waved up and down in front of nose with palm facing down.
strangle
kgama (S)
Elbow is raised to almost should height. Arm is bent at elbow and grasped at the wrist by the other hand in front of the chest.
strength
amandla (Z)
Arms bent up with fists facing upwards to the front.
study
geleza (Is)
Hands held up in front of the speaker with palms facing towards the face as if holding a book.
stupid (She/he is stupid)
Ke bare (Is)
Hand, with palm towards gesturer, moves diagonally downwards across the face.
surprise (I’m surprised)
Ke maketse (S)
Hands clapped together and dropped from the wrist away from the gesturer.
swear (I swear)
Ngiyafunga (Z)
First and second fingers are crossed and point upwards.
sweep
shanyela (Z)
Hands as if holding a broom make sweeping action.

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