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It is never a good idea to make rude gestures in parliament.
Especially if you are a member of the cabinet. Angry and frustrated during an important debate, Portuguese Economy Minister Manuel Pinho decided to show an opposition MP exactly what he thought of him. Examples of rude gestures you've sent us. In Portugal, and many other countries, it was a highly insulting gesture. It implied that the opposition MP was a cuckold. The word derives from old French for a cuckoo "cucu". The females of some species of cuckoo lay their eggs in other birds' nests and leave them to bring up the offspring. So, with that whiff of unfaithfulness, the carefree bird gave us the word "cuckold", which came in the Middle Ages to mean a husband with an errant wife.
But there are more subtleties in that rude gesture. The word "cuckold" also implies that the husband is unaware of his wife's infidelities. And he might only find out on the arrival of a baby - palpably not his. Which takes us back to the cuckoo. References to cuckolds abound in English literature.
In centuries past, marital infidelity was good for laughs.
Such as in Chaucer's The Miller's Tale, in which a young suitor comes up with the most convoluted scheme to entice his young lover away from her suspicious, elderly husband. Shakespeare loved cuckolds - many of his characters suspected they had become one. Cue anger, jealousy, murder and, of course, comedy. The word was also an excellent insult But that gesture - the hands to the forehead, finger and thumb outstretched.
How has that become to mean "you are a cuckold"? Back then, returning soldiers were given horns, symbolising success on the battlefield. But the horns also came to imply failure in the bedroom, and that it was never a good idea to leave a Roman wife alone for too long. A more common explanation is that a horned beast cannot see its own horns. And husbands are often the last to know about their partner's infidelities. Whatever its origins, the link between horns and infidelity remains deep-rooted.
But in some countries that gesture made by Mr Pinho it is a lot more insulting than in others. In Britain, the word "cuckold" is old-fashioned. But youngsters still love to stick their fingers up behind their friends' he in photographs, to make them look silly. But in the Caucasus, any sort of "you have horns" gesture is staggeringly offensive, and can only be answered by violence.
In Italy, it is a very common gesture. Although it is definitely not polite, it does not usually end in a duel at dawn. The BBC's Rome correspondent, David Willey, who has lived in Italy for many years, says making the horn-gesture - "fare le corne" in Italian - is understood throughout the Mediterranean.
Whatever, it does appear that men in the more macho Mediterranean and Latin countries are more likely to be riled by the gesture. If you say to someone, your wife did this, it is humiliating. But he points out that in Portugal, the horn-gesture had another meaning, which comes from bull-fighting. At times, the matador almost makes fun of the bull, pulling it this way and that with a swish of his red cape.
So, says Mr Almeida Leite, Mr Pinho's gesture implied that his opponent was a lightweight, whose arguments were not worthy of consideration. Whatever the meaning, it was not acceptable behaviour in the Portuguese parliament. Mr Pinho has been replaced by Fernando Teixeira dos Santos. We asked you for examples of rude gestures from around the world.
Here are some of your replies:. I happen to be Italian and although I can confirm that the horn-gesture "fare le corna", not "corne" means exactly what you describe in the article, it is maybe interesting to know though that that is not the only meaning.
If the "horns" are pointing down, that is a superstitious gesture, similar to touching wood. I am an American expatriate in Germany. I learned that the American gesture to indicate "okay" forming a circle out of thumb and forefinger with the other three fingers extended is a very rude Gesture in Germany. Paul Kachur, Oberheimbach, Germany. In the Eleme culture, raising the back of your hand with the forefinger and second finger up in the air at another person is an absolute of contempt. It means the other person is worthles; a jerk. Joseph Obari, Eleme, Nigeria. In Georgia, the Caucasus, being horned has another meaning as well, how to be a good cuckold.
George, Tbilisi. In Poland the American single finger is gaining in use especially by the ladies! The traditional Polish gesture though is the so-called Kozakiewicz, named for the athlete who did it to the Moscow Olympics stadium audience after their continuous booing of his gold medal pole vault winning performance: The left arm is bent across the body and the right goes under and up past it with an aggressive clenched fist. It has the same meaning as the traditional English two fingers.
One finger call is for children. In my country, to make the lifting leg, as if to suggest a farting, is inappropriate gesture. Also a rubbing of fingers on the bottom and waving as if to say "I fill the air with my private aroma. Back to story. Most Popular Now 56, people are reading stories on the site right now. BBC News Updated every minute of every day. One-Minute World News. News Front. E-mail this to a friend Printable version. It looks insulting - but what exactly does it mean? For she was wild and young, and he was old, And deemed himself as like to be a cuckold.
Berlusconi was "only kidding" when making this gesture in an EU photo. It is a great thing to do if you want to start a fight. MP's cuckold shocks Portugal 03 Jul 09 Europe. Country profile: Portugal 22 Mar 12 Country profiles. Diario de Noticias. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
Ghost town. The guerilla plant.
Walking away. Printable version. Cuckolds, horns and other explanations. For she was wild and young, and he was old, And deemed himself as like to be a cuckold Geoffrey Chaucer. E-mail this to a friend.
The guerilla plant How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire.How to be a good cuckold
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