It may be true what they say: “In Europe, one speaks with one’s hands and feet!” and it is certainly true in the gestures that accompany the beautiful French language. Of all the gestures, one has its own name: the Gallic shrug. It gets our vote for one of the most versatile and subtle ways that the French tell you, without words, what’s going on.
Most people in a position to know will list the components of the Gallic shrug as:
- Tip your head to one side or another.
- Do something poochy with your lips, stick one or both out (some call it a pout…but that’s not quite it).
- Raise your eyebrows.
- Bring your hands up, in either a “throw your hands” in the air gesture….or wiggling your fingers.
- You can shrug your shoulders…but that’s optional. (Yes, the shrug in Gallic shrug is optional!)
- Emit a nonchalant “Bof”.
One of our blogging informants adds: If it sounds too complicated, just do a Maurice Chevalier impression.
What does it mean? We-e-ell……that’s another matter. One of the delights of body language is that the gesture can carry so much meaning – meaning that can’t necessarily be expressed in words. Several inadequate attempts to summarize the Gallic shrug could be:
- “There’s nothing to be done about it?”
- “Who knows!”
- “It’s not my problem, buddy!”
- “Not me!”
- “I don’t necessarily agree.”
- “Look, you are not seriously expecting me to try to sort this out for you, are you?”
Next time you’re at a loss for words….throw a Gallic shrug into the conversational mix. You might like it!
While travelling, have you ever resorted to talking with your hands and feet? How did it work out?