My hands speak Spanish, too

The other day I took the niños to the pool. Usually I get out a few minutes before them and let them play a little longer. When it’s time to go, I wave them over, since they can’t hear me over all the noise of splashing and playing.

Well, as I waved them over this time, I stared at my hand in disbelief, because completely without my permission, my hand was speaking Spanish.

You see, you don’t actually have to open your mouth to speak Spanish. Different gestures mean different things in different cultures, and while there are many accepted ways to say “come here” for gringos, my hand waved my children over in latino “sign language”.


  1. Very nice. Yes, in the Spanish speaking world, a lot is said with your hands. But my favorite non-verbal (and my Anglo wife’s favorite) is pointing at things with your lips. It comes in handy if two people want to discretely and subtly communicate something without alerting the third person in the room. As soon as the oblivious party looks in a different direction, a well aimed pair of pointed pursed lips can say: “check out her feet, I wonder how long she’s been dragging that strip of toilet paper around”

    • @ Rubén – One of my favorites, too! :) … I also love to see los machos greet each other with a slight “chin lift”.

    • @Ruben I do “the lips” thing all the time and now that I think about it, I also make a fast eyebrow movement as to say “pay attention over there” LOL

      • @ Claudia – LOL, my husband does this all the time. It’s very comical yet adorable with his thick eyebrows.

  2. my girlfriends and i nod/agree with just our index finger. Do you know what I mean? Also indicates “ready” or “let’s get out of here”! I think it’s a Baja/Sinaloa/Nayarit thing.

    • @ Graciela – This might be a new one for me. I’m not quite sure what you mean. How do you move your index finger in these situations? (Kind of hard to describe without, I know!)

    • Graciela & Tracy, it’s a Mexican thing for sure because we do that in my house! Our entire family in Mexico (mostly all from Mexico City with a few stragglers from other areas & some relatives from Veracruz) all do it too!

  3. Oh so true! I hope that sometimes you also remember to point with your chin in addition to using your hands. I once got pinched by my mother as we exited church when I was a kid. I saw the priest at the door and instead of extending my hand to shake his, I simply gave that chin/head up and back gesture that’s very Mexican (not sure how much it fits into other Latinos’ gestural repartee). I saw nothing wrong with it since he smiled and returned the gesture.

  4. LOL! I never really thought of the differences, unfortunately, I don’t use the Latino hand gestures to call someone over. I ghetto-ly yell for them to come over. Heh.

  5. I made the meatballs (and sals) for dinner tonight and they were a HIT! YUMMY, I cooked them on the BBQ and served with grilled polenta and sour cream… mmmm, it will be made again, I can guarantee it — Thank you!!!!!

  6. OMG! That is hilarious! I will have to do a post based off of this one called: My Hands Speak New Yorker, Too! I have a few choice Latina/New Yorker gestures for some people. LOL.

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