Friday, April 16, 2010

The awkward turtle

This week's random Friday post comes back to an old pet topic of mine - gesture. It also comes back to a rather new pet topic of mine - no longer feeling particularly young.

a while ago language log had a post about the word 'awkward', looking at its current usage and how it's extended its meaning and application of late:

One thing that caught my attention was how the phrase 'awkward turtle' has been coined, as though it were some kind of aquatic guardian of unfortunate situations. Invoking the 'awkward turtle' is often accompanied a symbolic turtle gesture with one hand placed palm down over the other hand, also palm down, and the thumbs are rotated to represent a swimming turtle. Most interestingly, now this gesture is performed without speech.

Interestingly, although the origin of this gestural practice is said to be in US colleges, the gesture is not actually the American Sign Language (ASL) sign for turtle, this is:

Apparently the 'awkward turtle' sign is actually ASL for platypus, although I can't find a picture to attest to that. The sign though, is the Auslan sign for turtle:

I thought it was a pretty cute gesture, and I thought I'd ask my little sister if she'd heard of it. The reply was an exasperated sigh and an incredulous stare, as though I must be living the life of a hermit to not know about the awkward turtle. Yup - I now know only what's hip if a bunch of professors half way around the world inform me .

1 comment:

  1. lauren, if it makes you feel any less uncool, I was not even aware that 'awkward turtle' was phrase in modern language, let alone a readily cognisable gesture. Either I'm behind the times or Dublin is (personally I blame Dublin). What will those cool kids at language log think of next?!