Sign language among medieval monks sworn to silence

Medieval monks who had taken vows of silence developed a simple form of sign language to communicate (predating the development of modern sign language by centuries), and scholars know many of the signs they used.

Some examples of monastic sign language from the essay "Sign Language and Gestures in Medieval Europe: Monasteries, Courts of Justice, and Society," by August Nitschke:

I want to eat: repeatedly move the first three fingers towards the mouth.

I want to drink: place the tip of the thumb on the lips and tilt the fist like a bottle.

I am fasting: press together the lips with thumb and forefinger

Bread: make a circle using both your thumbs and the fingers next to them.

Milk: place all the fingers of your right hand around the smallest finger of your left and stretch the latter, imitating someone who is milking.

Honey: Let your tongue protrude for a moment and move your fingers close as if you intended to lick them.

A book: stretch our your hand, moving it as if turning the page of a book.

The Missal: Make the sign for a book, and in addition make the sign of the cross.

The Gospel: make the sign for a book, and then make the sign of the cross on your forehead.

Crying: take the index finger, which has been placed below the eye, moving it downward twice.

The Hallelujah: raise one hand and move the slightly curved upper side of the fingers in a way that suggests a flying motion.

Fire: Blow on the tip of the forefinger, which is held pointing up.

A fish: Keeping the fingers together, move the right hand, keeping it straight, in front of the body in a zigzag maner like a swimming animal.

More info: wikipedia,
     Posted By: Alex - Wed Oct 01, 2008
     Category: History

This is too rich!!!

The I Miss Talking: Open mouth and pretend to pull out words then do the crying bit.

The Kiss My Ass, I'm Outa Here: Palm to mouth, kiss fingers then gently pat your chicken-strutted butt. Leave.
Posted by Madd Maxx on 10/01/08 at 06:33 PM
I Stubbed My Toe: Stand on one leg (preferably the one without the injured toe), with both hands hold the foot with the injured toe and hop around like a jackass.

Who Cut It?: Pinch nose between your fore finger and your thumb and pretend you smell something really bad. Then frantically look around at everybody else.
Posted by Madd Maxx on 10/01/08 at 06:55 PM
Make a circle with thumb and index finger of left hand and hook the index finger of the right hand in the circle.

This means "Good hookup" to a rookie pilot's 1st landing on an aircraft carrier


Hang it in your ass!
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 10/02/08 at 12:49 AM
The Hokey Pokey: Put left ___ in. Take left ___ out. Put left __ and shake it all about. Turn yourself around and then repeat the previous steps using your right ___.
Posted by Madd Maxx on 10/02/08 at 12:59 PM
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