I’ve talked a lot on this blog about verbal communication in Celinophone countries, but to focus on the verbal alone is a bit of an omission. After all, many of the people who speak Celinese are very demonstrative indeed. Circassírain and Northern Elithoans in particular are known for adding to their speech a carefully-chosen gesticulation, or five, from the arsenal of signs known to the majority of Celinese-speaking peoples. Researchers have shown that a majority of respondents in the northern Elithoan city of Perís can understand the gist of most conversations in Elithoan Sign Language because of the number of gestures the average person knows and uses and the extent to which they overlap with ESL signs.
Unfortunately for the theoretical visitor from our world, there isn’t much of an overlap with signs we know, and often a sign that means something, for instance, to an Anglophone or Francophone means something completely different - for instance, the “ok” sign in Elitho generally means sun and is used to suggest that it is too hot; and the middle finger gesture, uncouth in many countries in our world, is considered a perfectly polite way to as for a large meal in a restaurant or to suggest that something is big.
With these examples, an uninitiated visitor from another country in Lorech can understand the internal logic fairly quickly - what we understand as the OK sign does look, somewhat, like a sun with three sunbeams; and the middle finger generally tends to be the largest digit one has. However, not every gesture’s origin or meaning is as easily discerned, as there are dozens, if not hundreds, of gestures based on the colourful world of Celinese idioms. Here are five gestures and an explanation of the phrases that inspired them; I may add more to a subsequent article later.
Ceonús cé mo dosnë - Elithoans have a rather bizarre way of telling someone that they could not care less, and an unusual gesture to accompany it. Whilst we might say “I don’t care” about something, they say “talk with my dog,” the implication being that the subject at hand is so trivial or insipid that the speaker is insulted at being forced to listen to it, but that it might be on an intellectual level that their pet could tolerate. If you see someone stroking their right fist from right to left, or mimicking the action of pulling a leash, it might be a wise idea to change the subject!
Cotharain lo molín encolí fyðío elois - If you’re in a serpentine queue, or a traffic jam is making you late, you might point with exasperation to your wrist in many parts of our world. In Elitho, there is a gesture used by younger generations that is similar where one makes a spiral motion with one’s index finger above one’s wrist. However, some members of the older generation mime the action of weaving a basket. This comes from the above unusual turn of phrase which literally translates as ‘time will weave baskets for the moon’, referring to an action has no end in sight. Younger folk avoid the gesture because the humble word cothar (basket) has the unfortunate distinction of having a homonym meaning sex.
Drenar beichío henır fegothochír - One of several hundred Celinese idioms linked to Elitho’s maritime heritage, the Celinese equivalent of “a bad workman blames his/her tools” is “only a bad angler blames their fishing line,” coming from the folk tale of a fisherman who would did not know how to cast a line, and so would always buy a new rod and line each day, thinking that it was their equipment that meant they caught no fish. These days, if one merely mimes reeling out a fishing line, the implication is that you think your interlocutor or a third person has got things wrong or is overlooking the answer to a problem.
Lo snonc cêith - It is to the great amusement of some foreigners that one of the most shocking gestures in Elitho is quite silly-looking indeed. The gesturer forms a tube around their nose with one hand, and then pulls the circle around the nose it forms with a sudden jerk towards their interlocutor. This gesture symbolises a pig’s snout moving towards the interlocutor and the phrase “lo snonc cêith” (to the pig with you). With pigs being considered dirty animals, they appear in a great many profane phrases, which in Celinese are neither scatalogical nor sexual, but rather refer to the sullying or defiling of the honour of one’s family, ancestors and spirituality. Lo snonc cêith is as strong an utterance as a “fuck you”, so this gesture, whilst it looks innocuous, is best to be avoided; it once got a tourist from Foghur in a spot of trouble because there it is their gesture for a glass of wine in a restaurant. Even more inflammatory is the combination of the snout gesture with one hand and the blood gesture (an S-shape traced on the wrist) with the other. This stands for témoc go snonc (swine blood), a direct attack on one’s interlocutors’ heritage and legitimacy, and is the most offensive utterance or gesture in Elitho, Gwyðach, Sairstír and other Celinophone nations on or near Tygenoc. Use at your peril.
Efrí taros na g-caroig bair elicír - To go to a different extreme on the scale of human emotions, as once was mentioned on this blog, Celinese speakers’ equivalent to the phrase “to carry a torch for someone” also invokes the sea like some of the idioms above; translated, it means “to carry the sea in one’s heart around someone,” which evokes the feeling of nervousness around someone one loves as well as their importance, the sea being considered by Celinophones as the ultimate source of life. Instead of gesturing a heart shape (which to the Elithoans means “vegetable”), they trace the shape of a wave, up and down, over their hearts.