Dean Owen

4 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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Talking Hands

Talking Hands

I turned towards my buddy. He made a twisting motion with his hands like he was twisting a screwdriver. I was puzzled. He pointed up, and I saw it whizz past. A monster Bluefin tuna shimmering in light. The screwdriver hand signal suddenly made sense (like tuning a radio or something). I was never good at remembering fish hand signals. I mean, all divers know that holding your hand upright on your forehead like a dorsal fin means there is a shark in the vicinity. One diver in Thailand taught me that groping your breasts indicates a grouper. Unfortunately there appears to be no official marine animal hand signal language and it often differs with each region/diving instructor. I don’t think putting a finger over your top lip to make a moustache and doing a Nazi salute to indicate a dolphin would go down well with the PC crowd (Adolph – A Dolphin).

Hand signals for different marine life

I thought about the hand signals used in the trading pits. I was never a floor broker but for years I passed orders into the floors of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Singapore Exchange and others. Over drinks with the floor brokers they’d often explain the various hand signals. Some houses would create their own hand signals as they didn’t want other houses picking up and potentially front running their orders.

                                              Hand signals on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange

It occurred to me that hand signals are used universally in different industries and professions. We use (or should use) hand signals when riding a bike. The military and police forces use hand signals during a raid. For all you conspiracy theorists, even Hillary Clinton is claimed to have used secret hand signals to moderator Lester Holt during the first Presidential debate.

Here are some of the more interesting professions where I have found prolific use of hand signals.

Beach Volleyball







The bushmen of the Kalahari have been using sign language for almost 50,000 years and still do to this day.

I’d be interested to know if you have come across any interesting uses of hand signals.

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Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #20

And it appears, a few of us women lol. Interesting. I had to pass the beach volleyball by (joking) but sounded good.

Ken Boddie

4 years ago #19

Interesting take on digital signals, Dean-san. Begs the question, before the digital age, how did we display analogue signals? I must admit I didn't get beyond the ladies beach volleyball video, which I had to watch several times, purely for educational purposes, of course. As for mimicking a screwdriver action when a gigantic fish with teeth approaches, I would have thought the obvious interpretation would have been, "quick - head for the boat, or we're screwed!" 😂

Jerry Fletcher

4 years ago #18

Dean, Spoken like a true man from warmer climes! The Ladies World Champions of Roller Derby are from Portland Oregon. I'm planning to see them the first part of June. As a wag at the last match said, "No, I wouldn't exactly call them ladies." If you ever need an example of split personalities these women, each and every one are true specimens ripe for examination. Cautious examination.

Dean Owen

4 years ago #17

I had to Google Roller Derby. I had no idea roller-skates still existed in the 21st Century! Now I've watched a video I think I'll stick to watching beach volleyball!

Jerry Fletcher

4 years ago #16

Keep your hand in Dean! Great article to stir the brain early in the morning. I think some hand signals may be used in Roller Derby but I've only been to see it once.

Dean Owen

4 years ago #15

The secrets out now! I hear the French have hired a translator for the upcoming matches against the Boks.

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

4 years ago #14

Interesting article Dean Owen Did'nt know there were hands signs for so many things.

Dean Owen

4 years ago #13

Was thinking about rugby but they don't use hand signs do they? I remember the line out calls were done in code, i.e. words beginning with A were to the front, B to the middle, and C to the back or something like that...

Dean Owen

4 years ago #12

Funny that. In the ocean, we are the deaf ones....

Dean Owen

4 years ago #11

#8 Yep, forgive me for not being PC, but that video is delicious! (and probably the only one us guys clicked on!)

Neil Smith

4 years ago #10

Two deaf friends are the only scuba divers I know who can have a completely normal conversation underwater. While they are chatting the rest of us are at the "See Spot run" level.

Dean Owen

4 years ago #9

Lots of noise, or perhaps no noise (doing spacewalks?)

Dean Owen

4 years ago #8

Yeah, gotta be careful when using certain sign language in Asia or you could either end up getting beat up by triads or married!

Dean Owen

4 years ago #7

Wow, you blazed that one across your social media channels! You are a machine! Thanks Lance :)

Gert Scholtz

4 years ago #6

Dean Owen There are of course many hand signs I see during peak traffic! Other instances could be signs used in different sports by referees and sometimes players. Dogs respond to hand signs if trained :) A very interesting post and perspective Dean.

Paul Walters

4 years ago #5

Dean Owen I think I will simply stick to watching womens beach volleyball!!!

Codes also where there is a lot of noise. Interesting Dean Owen

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #3

an intriguing article just as well you had it sign posted for us , funny how one thing means something completely different depending where you live :-) Dean Owen

Lance 🐝 Scoular

4 years ago #2

👥ing 🐝🐝🐤🐳🔥🚲

Lance 🐝 Scoular

4 years ago #1

Dean Owen you could say these are "signs of the times. " 😊

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