Cultural Differences in Body Language Gestures "Say What?: Nica Gestures"

I good friend of mine Marc Spigel, daughter Lauren  has a great blog post on Nicaraguan Body Language titled “Say What? Nica Gestures” Lauren is in Nicaragua with he Peace Corps and had to learn these gestures on the fly.  I thought I would share to illustrate the cultural differences of body language. She does a very nice job  explaining and demonstrating several of them in her post.

One of the first lessons I learned upon arriving in Nicaragua is that Nicaraguans not only communicate in Spanish, but also with a series of gestures that are very different from the gestures we’re used to in the States.  To prevent confusion and to prepare adequately for life in Nicaragua, please see the following informational handout on Nica gestures.

“The Lip Point.”  The Lip Point is used during conversation to indicate something or someone nearby that you are talking about. “The Lip Point” is used instead of “The Finger Point” or “The Head Nod” in United States gesture-speak. Examples: That lady over there (lip point) sells bread; Go (lip point) in that direction; That guy (lip point) is crazy.


“The Nose Scrunch.” It means, “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.” To implement “The Nose Scrunch” effectively, scrunch up only the nose part on your face, as if you smell something rotten.  Then maintain silence so that the other party can explain themselves more adequately.  ”The Nose Scrunch,” when implemented properly by a Nica, often brings out my insecurities of speaking Spanish.  It’s usually a direct reaction to my Gringa-ness, rather than to my ability (or inability) to speak Spanish. Example: Lauren: “What time does the next bus leave?” / Nica: (nose scrunch) /Lauren: (slightly annoyed and less confidently) “What-time-does-the-next-bus-leave?”/ Nica: half hour.


“The Get Over Here.” This hand gesture means, “vení!”, or in English, “get over here!” Extend your arm and wave hand towards your body repeatedly until the other party comes closer.  This gesture should also be used to hail a cab.

“The What’s Your Problem?!” This gesture can be used playfully, amongst friends, or could also be used to start a fight when used with an enemy.  It means, “what’s your problem?” or, to a friend, “whattup?” To implement properly, extend both hands simultaneously from the center of your body while nodding your chin up with brows furrowed.  Caution: don’t do this to drunk people that you don’t know.

For more demonstrations of Nicaraguan body language gestures follow Nicaraguan Lauren at this link