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The physicality of Turkish people is unmistakable and, without question, one of their most impressive features, at least to their more awkward Western cousins. Still, after four years in Turkey, it took me until that moment to realize how loaded their gestures actually are--each has a specific use and meaning, and if you know them, you almost don’t need to know Turkish in order to get around.

There are, of course, other fiercely gesticulating cultures; excitable Italians, heated Spaniards... but their hand gestures are more like angry birds flitting around their stories. In the case of Turks, their hands tell it all: their helplessness, their anger, their faith, their favorite recipes, how big the fish they almost caught was, and how bad you’re going to get it if you don’t behave.

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