When thinking about Italians and the stereotypes to which they are frequently associated, people would easily recall their verbal-visual way to establish interpersonal communication. As a matter of fact, Italians would naturally use body language quite often when conversing – especially through gestures.
While most of the Italians do that, southern Italy seem to be the main theatre for the daily mise-en-scene of the “art of gestures”.
By simply taking a walk through a crowded place, such as a hang-out of young people in circle, or at the table of a cafè, you would easily come to spot a gather of people talking, with one or more persons talking in turns to hold a conversation by speaking and moving their hands simultaneously with an orchestrating harmony that would apparently turn such conversation into an harmonious, upbeat debate.
Such gestures may vary upon the subject of the conversation, but they all aim at conveying their feelings to the interlocutor, by expressing either a colloquial friendly attitude, but also to express anger and distress when occurring.
Despite the short extent to which Italian applies worldwide, its fame is quite widespread amongst globally open-minded people. This is especially due to the above-mentioned peculiarity this unique language would entail.
For such reasons, an Italian abroad with poor elements of the local language, wouldn’t really have serious problems with communication, at least when it comes to basic and simple conversations. And yes, that little acting would impress the interlocutor and enhance his attention, which would no longer be paid to merely hearing the spoken words.
In my experience – as an Italian from the south, living abroad – I get pleasantly acknowledged every time I pronounce the words “I’m Italian”. As if the expectation of a magic communication ritual arose in the interlocutor, priming him or her to an unusual as emphatic set of communication devices.
It’s not really clear to me why Italians like to gesticulate, but in any case that’s what makes Italian a uniquely impressive language.
If you found this article interesting, you may also like our article about sign languages.