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  #1  
Old 12-20-2006, 12:02 AM
Runs With Scissors Runs With Scissors is offline
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What does sticking your tongue out at someone mean?

Does it have a meaning?

Or is it something kids do naturally, and we're just imitating them?
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  #2  
Old 12-20-2006, 12:06 AM
Captain_C Captain_C is offline
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It is a childish/playful way of saying "nuts to you!"
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  #3  
Old 12-20-2006, 12:30 AM
Quasimodem Quasimodem is offline
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I think the OP was going for the "why" of the tongue, rather than say, that hand on the crook of the elbow thing which seems to convey the same meaning?

("Nuts to you", I mean)

I don't have the answer to this interesting question, but just wanted to clarify its intent a bit. I hope that is what you meant?

Q
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  #4  
Old 12-20-2006, 01:47 AM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Unfortunately the language of gesture is likely older than that of speech, and therefore ultimately unknowable.
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  #5  
Old 12-20-2006, 03:08 AM
betenoir betenoir is offline
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Well it could mean I want to run this over your genitals. Just bringing up a more cheerful possiblity.
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  #6  
Old 12-20-2006, 03:11 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Ergh, I don't know about Places Abroad, but Over Here we consider the crook to the elbow a serious insult. The tongue isn't an insult, it displays mockery in fun or irritation but comparing the two is... like comparing "oh, you're silly!" with "motherfucker".
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  #7  
Old 12-20-2006, 05:22 AM
sandra_nz sandra_nz is online now
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I tend to use it when I've had an argument that maybe got a bit more heated than it needed to. It's a playful way of saying 'this is ridiculous, let's laugh at ourselves!'
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  #8  
Old 12-20-2006, 05:41 AM
Ice Wolf Ice Wolf is offline
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I've done it playfully a few times, in a "sez you! I don't care!" gesture. It is supposed to be a hark back to childhood -- that's why it's non-threatening in those situations.
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  #9  
Old 12-20-2006, 06:47 AM
RumMunkey RumMunkey is offline
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Quote:
rather than say, that hand on the crook of the elbow thing
Huh? Never seen this gesture. More details?
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  #10  
Old 12-20-2006, 06:57 AM
chowder chowder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by betenoir
Well it could mean I want to run this over your genitals. Just bringing up a more cheerful possiblity.
Indeed but only if you waggle your tongue up and down frantically.

Drooling also helps.
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  #11  
Old 12-20-2006, 07:25 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Originally Posted by RumMunkey
Huh? Never seen this gesture. More details?
Since I don't know what it's called in English, I had to google in Spanish. And it's so rude that you get very few hits.

Click here and then on the link that says "Maimon pierde los nervios..." to see one.
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  #12  
Old 12-20-2006, 07:26 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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I don't generally agree with Structural Anthropologist Claude Levi-Straus, but he suggested an origin for this gesture that is, AFAIK, the only serious attempt to do so, and it's not bad. Here it is



He suggests that the sticking-the-tongue-out gesture that acts as a juvenile rejection taunt is basically the same motion used by an infant rejecting food being forced in by its mother (in pre-tech societies, this wouldn't be Gerber Strained Whatever, but food chewed up by Mom and essentially spit into the baby's mouth. In other words, it's an infantile rejection sign, and the one used by older kids is the same rejection mechanism used in more general circumstances.




The other tongue gestures, especially the erotic ones, may owe a little to this (erotic games often seem to include a return to child play patterns), but has a pretty obvious sexual suggestion to it ("I can use this to lick you with"). For which, have a look at Desmond Morris' picture books, like Gestures or Bodywatching.
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  #13  
Old 12-20-2006, 07:30 AM
grimpixie grimpixie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
He suggests that the sticking-the-tongue-out gesture that acts as a juvenile rejection taunt is basically the same motion used by an infant rejecting food being forced in by its mother (in pre-tech societies, this wouldn't be Gerber Strained Whatever, but food chewed up by Mom and essentially spit into the baby's mouth. In other words, it's an infantile rejection sign, and the one used by older kids is the same rejection mechanism used in more general circumstances.
I've read the same - although it was in the context of the infant pushing out the mother's breast/nipple after feeding.

Grim
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  #14  
Old 12-20-2006, 08:17 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
He suggests that the sticking-the-tongue-out gesture that acts as a juvenile rejection taunt is basically the same motion used by an infant rejecting food being forced in by its mother (in pre-tech societies, this wouldn't be Gerber Strained Whatever, but food chewed up by Mom and essentially spit into the baby's mouth. In other words, it's an infantile rejection sign, and the one used by older kids is the same rejection mechanism used in more general circumstances.
That's actually pretty brilliant. I'll also add, completely from Anecdote Land, that caregivers tend to laugh when that happens, and mimic the baby's action, often with a "bleh!" sound. As the kid gets older, many people use the "bleh"/tongue out combo to warn kids away from the garbage can, the open dishwasher, the open diaper with a wad of feces in it, the gum on the sidewalk or other "gross and dirty" stuff. We effectively teach them that tongue out = "gross and dirty and don't touch". It doesn't seen surprising that they then start using it in day care or preschool to mean, "You're gross and nasty and I don't want to touch (play with) you!"

As we get older, of course, it become ridiculous and/or sexualized. At that point, it becomes funny to use it ironically - as in an argument with your cubicle neighbor over the Bulls game last night.
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  #15  
Old 12-20-2006, 08:38 AM
saoirse saoirse is offline
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Just goes to show: If you want to say "Nuts to you" without speaking, there's only one way to do it.
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  #16  
Old 12-20-2006, 08:42 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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By the way, it occurs to me that I read that tidbit in the appropriately-named The Origin of Table Manners by Levi-Straus
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  #17  
Old 12-20-2006, 08:56 AM
Misnomer Misnomer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
As the kid gets older, many people use the "bleh"/tongue out combo to warn kids away from the garbage can, the open dishwasher, the open diaper with a wad of feces in it, the gum on the sidewalk or other "gross and dirty" stuff. We effectively teach them that tongue out = "gross and dirty and don't touch".
Hence, the effectiveness of Mr. Yuk.
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  #18  
Old 12-20-2006, 10:13 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_C
It is a childish/playful way of saying "nuts to you!"
And the standard third-grade reply to someone sticking out their tongue at you is, "No thanks, I use toilet paper."


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  #19  
Old 12-20-2006, 10:17 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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By the way, the "sticking out the tongue" gesture used by ancient symbols such as he Gorgon, Kirtimukkha, Bes, Rahu, Rangda, Tiki, Tonatiuh, Mixtecuhtli, and others has , I believe, a completely different meaning and origin. An entire chapter of a book by someone I greatly admire was devoted to this.
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  #20  
Old 12-20-2006, 11:27 AM
Runs With Scissors Runs With Scissors is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quasimodem
I think the OP was going for the "why" of the tongue, rather than say, that hand on the crook of the elbow thing which seems to convey the same meaning?

("Nuts to you", I mean)

I don't have the answer to this interesting question, but just wanted to clarify its intent a bit. I hope that is what you meant?

Q
I originally meant, literally, what it means. Does it mean a phrase (such as "fuck you") or something milder "you're a poopy face." Or is it a purely dismissive gesture that doesn't translate directly into words?

But, now that I read the discussion, "why the tongue?" becomes very interesting!
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  #21  
Old 12-20-2006, 12:33 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Quote:
I think the OP was going for the "why" of the tongue, rather than say, that hand on the crook of the elbow thing which seems to convey the same meaning?

("Nuts to you", I mean)
Go to Desmond Morris for this one. He sees it as a literal "Fuck You!" gesture (The arm is a super-phallus that it being forced into some aperture until stopped by the edge, indicated by the other arm stopping it at the elbow).


Makes sense to me.


And, if true, a very different sort of comment than the stuck-out tongue. The tongue is a childish and not very serious little rejection. The arm-and-fist is a serious, adult, violent insult. Even if done in a kidding way between friends it undeniably packs more of a punch, which is understandable if the Morris explanation is true.
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  #22  
Old 12-20-2006, 12:52 PM
Least Original User Name Ever Least Original User Name Ever is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saoirse
Just goes to show: If you want to say "Nuts to you" without speaking, there's only one way to do it.

Followed by an unzip and an awkward scamper over to press your sack on someone's thigh.
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  #23  
Old 12-20-2006, 01:11 PM
saoirse saoirse is offline
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Originally Posted by Least Original User Name Ever
Followed by an unzip and an awkward scamper over to press your sack on someone's thigh.
Thigh? Oh, yes, I guess that would be a little less offensive.
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  #24  
Old 12-20-2006, 08:14 PM
elelle elelle is offline
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I remembered that it was a Tibetan custom to stick out one's tongue as a greeting, and googled about as to why. My first rather wiseass simple thought was that it would be an extreme sign of respect to stick your tongue out in that sort of freezing cold environment. But, I was on the wrong track: From this site :

Quote:
Sticking out the tongue was once a common form of formal Tibetan greeting which has not yet completely disappeared:

"In 1727, when Tibet was invaded by Dzungars, the practice of Bon was again prohibited. Many Bon Lamas were executed at this time, and the Nyingmapas were persecuted as well. When meeting, the Dzungars would force the Tibetans to show their tongues. They thought that if the tongue was a light color, it proved that the person was neither a Bonpo nor a Nyingmapa. It was believed that the tongues of these peoples had turned black or brown due to numerous recitations of mantras."
So, that custom would be tongue as passport, rather than an emotional reaction. Though, I remember reading previously that the tongue was displayed as a symbol of life force, which makes sense, as Tibetan and other Asian medicine tradition makes use of tongue diagnosis for state of health. (So do Westerners, in a less specific manner; "Say Ahhhhh")

Anyone else know about this tradition, somewhat at odds with the basic explainations in this thread?
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  #25  
Old 12-20-2006, 08:33 PM
Quasimodem Quasimodem is offline
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Another "tongue custom": Laying the blade of a hot knife on a suspect's tongue to prove honesty.

The logic was if you were lying, your mouth would be so dry your tongue wouldn't be protected by enough saliva to keep it from burning you.

Q
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  #26  
Old 12-21-2006, 06:36 AM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
<SNIP>
He suggests that the sticking-the-tongue-out gesture that acts as a juvenile rejection taunt is basically the same motion used by an infant rejecting food being forced in by its mother (in pre-tech societies, this wouldn't be Gerber Strained Whatever, but food chewed up by Mom and essentially spit into the baby's mouth. In other words, it's an infantile rejection sign, and the one used by older kids is the same rejection mechanism used in more general circumstances.
<SNIP>
I seem to recall a similar theory regarding the universal head jesture meaning 'no'. The theory was that the head shake came from the infant turning his head away from the breast when he did not wish to eat. However, it has been so long since I read that, I have no idea where I read it.
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