COVID-19 brings new greetings




Current Affairs Chinese - Novel Coronavirus (continued IVX)

-COVID-19 brings new greetings

As social distancing lingers, many cultures around the world are adapting their distinct greetings to fit the new normal.(This article has been a little abridged.)



By Bella Dally-Steele & Ruth Terry

13 May 2020




Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way we interact, and physical greetings with potential to spread the virus are among its cultural casualties. But the ways people around the world are adapting to this new reality suggests that we haven’t yet lost the human urge to say “hello”.


Greetings are deceptively simple, but verbal and non-verbal greetings help us define the boundaries of our interactions with others. “The greeting is a little bit like a sponge. It absorbs all these different things: the relationships that we have, the kind of person that we are,” said Alessandro Duranti, professor of anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. “‘Greetings’ acknowledge something that’s going on in a much broader context than just that little interaction” – in this case, Covid-19.

问候看似简单,而言语和非言语问候却可以帮助我们定义我们与他人互动的界限。“‘问候’有点像海绵。它吸收了所有这些不同的东西:我们之间的关系,我们是什么类型的人。”加利福尼亚大学洛杉矶分校人类学教授亚历山德罗·杜兰蒂说,“ ‘问候’是指在更广泛的范围内进行的事情,而不仅仅是小型互动” –这样的结果,无疑是新冠病毒。



Popularised by many high-profile politicians, the elbow bump has replaced the handshake in parts of the US (Credit: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)

受到众多知名政客的欢迎,击肘在美国部分地区取代了握手(来源:Mandel Ngan / Getty Images) 


From the ancient, clasped-palmed Indian “namaste” to the brand-new elbow bump used by US politicians, the ways people are reshaping their greetings for coronavirus also reveal insights into their respective cultures. To find out more, we spoke to locals in seven countries about the cultural significance of traditional greetings and how Covid-19 is changing them.


China 中国

Perhaps the most notable greeting to emerge recently is the Wuhan shake. The “shake”, which involves participants tapping the insoles of their feet with each other, kicked off in March after videos of the new greeting went viral. Since its debut, high-profile political figures like Russian energy minister Alexander Novak and Tanzanian president John Magufuli have publicly performed the Wuhan shake, inspiring speculation that it might become the world’s new handshake.


Yet, it seems unlikely that the Wuhan shake will replace more typical Chinese greetings, like the modern handshake or the 3,000-year-old fist-in-palm bow still used during Chinese New Year, weddings or other celebrations. Despite ample press coverage, the Wuhan shake has yet to become routine. This is likely because the shake evolved now forbidden by social distancing, said Chuan-Kang Shih, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Florida.



The Wuhan shake foot greeting started in China and has since spread around the world (Credit: Alex Liew/Getty Images)

武汉式握手问候始于中国,此后在全球范围内传播(来源:Alex Liew / Getty Images)

“People just wanted to be playful and cheer up, so they invented this mimicry”,Shih said.



New Zealand新西兰

A week before the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic on 11 March, indigenous Maori groups across New Zealand had already instructed their members around the country to avoid greeting each other with traditional hongi, in which two people press their noses and foreheads together.


New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, soon echoed this message to the nation, urging all Kiwis to “stop handshakes, hugs and hongi”.


Many Maori have since pivoted to a casual lift of the chin and eyebrows to acknowledge each other, said Rangi Matamua, professor of indigenous studies at the University of Waikato. These nods, while already commonplace before Covid-19 and not necessarily exclusive to the Maori, have replaced hongi for the immediate future.


The hongi greeting has a profound meaning for New Zealand's Maori culture, but it has been adopted by many Kiwis and visitors to the island (Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)hongi

碰鼻礼式问候对新西兰的毛利文化具有深刻的含义,但已被许多新西兰人和该岛的游客所接受(图片来源:Chris Jackson / Getty Images)

“‘The most important thing in the world is people,’” Matamua said, quoting a Maori proverb. “So, if customs and traditions are not applicable or harm people, we change them.”

马塔穆阿引用毛利人的谚语说:“'世界上最重要的是人' 。” “因此,如果风俗和传统不适用或对人有伤害,我们将对其进行改变。”



French cheek-kisses or bises were also discouraged during the 1918 influenza, yet they took longer than hongi to disappear during this most recent pandemic.


Less than a week before the French government imposed a shelter-in-place order, 66% of one survey’s respondents reported they still exchanged bises. By the end of March, that figure had dropped to 6% as the French replaced them with a verbal version, exchanging “Bises!” or the more familiar “Bisous!” to greet each other from a distance.

在法国政府实施就地隔离令前不到一周,在一项调查的受访者中有66%表示他们仍在面颊吻。到三月底,这个数字下降到了6%,因为法国人改用了言语版本,远距离地互相打招呼说“吻你!”来互相打招呼,从而取代了“ 面颊吻”。

As coronavirus spread, many French were initially reluctant to give up their famous double-cheek-kiss greeting (Credit: NurPhoto/Getty Images)

随着冠状病毒的传播,许多法国人最初不愿放弃他们著名的双面颊吻式问候(图片来源:NurPhoto / Getty Images)


Tanzania 坦桑尼亚

Tanzanian culture has a strong collectivist mindset rooted in interdependence and understanding of one’s place within a greater social hierarchy, said Alexander Mwijage, social anthropologist at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Dar es Salaam.


Many Tanzanians have replaced handshakes, hugs and bowing to elders who then touch a young person's head with foot "shakes" (Credit: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

许多坦桑尼亚人用脚的“相握”取代握手、拥抱和向长者鞠躬,而长者则抚摸年轻人的头部(来源:Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)


Physical greetings, such as the formal bows that young people offer to elders, who reach down to touch the youth’s head in return, relate back to this larger sense of hierarchy. Between peers, a long handshake, hugs and cheek-kissing are also common, according to Mwijage.


“Covid-19 has created a distant relationship and… eroded how people should show respect and care to each other,” Mwijage said. “Legs are made to walk not to greet. Does [a foot shake] show love? Care? Respect?”

姆维贾格说:“ 新冠病毒创建了远距离的人际关系,并且……侵害了人们本该表现出的彼此的尊重和关心。” “腿是用来走路的而不是用来打招呼的。“脚握”能表示爱吗?能表示关心吗?能表示尊重吗?”

According to Mwijage, the use of face masks in Tanzania also distorts local verbal and nonverbal cues, such as a twisting of the lips frequently used to communicate agreement and other emotions. He predicts that foot shakes and bowing will soon be joined by more innovative greetings as social distancing continues.



Turkey 土耳其

Turkish greetings reflect the country’s Islamic heritage, hospitable culture and the social role of elders. Young people will clasp the hand of an elder relative, kiss it and then touch it to their own forehead, particularly during holidays. A double-cheek kiss is standard among colleagues, friends and even new acquaintances.


“There's a whole thing about the symmetry and the doubleness [of cheek kissing],” said Kenan Sharpe, a journalist and expert in Turkish pop culture. “It’s an even number here, always. There’s a sense of, like, if you don't do the other side, it’s like something’s missing.”

土耳其流行文化专家兼记者凯南·夏普表示:“ ‘面颊吻’的对称性和双重性完是事物的整体。” “在这里永远是个偶数。人们好像有一种感觉,如果你不做另一面,就就像是缺失了什么。”


Since the pandemic, many Turks have revived the centuries-old eyvallah greeting, where one puts a hand over their heart and bows slightly (Credit: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

自大流行以来,许多土耳其人恢复了数百年的伊瓦尔拉问候语,人们将手放在他们的心脏上方,稍稍欠身鞠躬(来源:Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)


For Turks, greetings are not just a way of welcoming people but also of showing their importance. In the wake of Covid-19, Turkish people turned to Islamic history to find a pandemic-friendly greeting that preserves these values.


The eyvallah is a centuries-old no-touch gesture likely used by the Ottomans that consists of placing the hand over the heart and bowing slightly. The movement signifies that person is in your heart, indicating both respect and endearment. The word “eyvallah” has Arabic roots and literally means “we entrust to God”, and the physical gesture has variations all over the Muslim world.

这种有百年历史的无触摸方式,很可能使用的是伊瓦尔拉方式,即将手放到心脏上方并捂住心脏,同时稍稍欠身鞠躬。这个动作表明对方是在你的心中,表示出尊重和爱戴。“ 伊瓦尔拉”一词源于阿拉伯语,字面意思是“我们托付给上帝”,其肢体动作在整个穆斯林世界有所不同。


United Arab Emirates阿拉伯联合酋长国

Since local health ministries banned physical greetings, many Emirati have been replacing hugs and traditional Emirati nose kisses (a traditional Bedouin greeting that consists of a simultaneous nose touch and handshake) by waving or by placing a hand to the heart, said local writer and publisher Natasha Amar.


Like the hongi, handshakes and hugs, traditional Emirati nose kisses have stopped in the age of social distancing (Credit: Haider Shah/Getty Images)

像碰鼻礼、握手和拥抱一样,在社交距离的时代,传统的阿联酋鼻吻也已停止(来源:Haider Shah / Getty Images)


A common thread among Afghanistan’s numerous ethnic groups is an emphasis on respect and honour and a fierce love of God and country. Traditional Afghan greetings, such as handshakes, hugs and kisses, express these values and speak to the nation’s warm, high-touch culture. In some provinces, as many as eight kisses may be given in a single greeting.


In some Afghan provinces, as many as eight kisses may be given in a single greeting (Credit: Noorullah Shirzada/Getty Images)

在阿富汗的一些省份,一次打招呼可能需要多达八个接吻(来源:Noorullah Shirzada / Getty Images)

Afghans tend to hold non-formal conversations in close proximity.


But social distancing has pushed people to adapt with a right-handed salute or wave, gestures formerly used to greet someone from afar, said Kabul resident, Saber Alimi.


Afghans hug and kiss “to demonstrate their love,” said Alimi. And while these physical greetings also serve as a way to honour people, the almost militaristic salute visually encapsulates Afghans’ sense of respect for others.


What new greetings do you know COVID-19 brings to us?


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