April 4, 2012 | By Adam Bisby, MSN Travel
Most embarrassing tourist faux pas

Thumbs down on thumbs up

Thumbs down on thumbs up (© Alexandrite/iStock)
  • These 10 cultural quirks often fool travellers. (© Andrew Parsons/WPA ROTA)
  • The ‘Greek no’ (© Ana Abejon.iStock)
  • The ‘Greek wave’ (© Petros Giannakouris/AP)
  • To ‘err’ is human, but to ‘um’ is awkward (© studiovespa/iStock)
  • More embarrassing words (© Grady Reese/iStock)
  • Where OK is not OK (© Игорь Гончаренко/iStock)
  • Thumbs down on thumbs up (© Alexandrite/iStock)
  • Hands off the head (© Yungshu Chao/iStock)
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It's no wonder the Fonz is shunned in Sardinia and Greece (of course), as well as in less-travelled countries like Nigeria, Iran and Afghanistan. In these cultures, the thumbs-up sign is the foulest of gesticular insults, roughly meaning "Up yours!" (Try watching "Happy Days" on TV using this meaning for the gesture. It's a good time.) In Thailand, it's not so much offensive as silly or mocking, like a child sticking out his tongue. Either way, it can make things awkward when hitch-hiking or reviewing movies.

* Bing: Which movie titles have been lost in translation?

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