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italy, italian, preschooler, TikTok

An Italian preschooler's Italian rant has people in stitches.

All people have a need to communicate, but the way we do that varies greatly from place to place. Every culture has its own communication peculiarities that make our human family delightfully diverse.

Not only do humans speak thousands of languages around the world, but we also engage in culturally specific speaking styles, speech patterns and body language, some of which are immediately identifiable.

Case in point: the Italian "finger purse."


Italian people are known for using their hands a lot when speaking. Italian hand gestures can vary a bit between northern and southern Italy, but one of the most universally recognizable is the pinched fingers or "finger purse." That's the gesture in which the tips of the fingers and the thumb are pressed together (forming a purse shape) and pointed upward, often in a repeated back-and-forth or up-and-down motion, sometimes with one hand and sometimes with both. Along with the rhythm of punctuated emphasis on certain words, especially when speaking passionately, the finger purse is often used to convey a question with a sense of annoyance, exasperation or confusion.

It's a gesticulation most of us associate with a classic Italian grandma or grandpa, but when you see it coming from a tiny little Italian person, it's utterly hilarious. A viral video, originally shared by @guiseppe_matilde on TikTok, shows a preschooler engaging in a passionate rant that is unmistakably Italian, both in the actual language she's speaking and in her hand gestures.

According to Italian speakers in the comments, the little girl is conveying a story about how someone commented negatively about her wearing a miniskirt. u/shykawaii_shark on Reddit shared:

"Rough translation for English speakers. Not a literal translation, I made it easier to comprehend

Mother: What kind of sense does that make!

Daughter: They told me 'What sense does going out with a miniskirt make?' Like, think for yourself! I can wear my miniskirt, and you mind your own business!

Mother: Exactly!

Daughter: Think about your own miniskirt, not mine!"

Got a feisty little feminist here.

The full video on TikTok is even better (but it doesn't have the Italian subtitles):

@giuseppe_matilde

Secondo voi ha ragione matilde ? #foryoupage @Giò Canaletti seguitela tutti su istragram matilde_vaccar

As adorable as this video is, it's also an example of how culture gets passed on from generation to generation. An Australian study found that young humans across different cultures imitate adults in ways that animals don't. Animals will imitate adult behavior to the extent that it's efficient and necessary to perform a task, whereas humans will mimic even silly or frivolous behaviors that have no purpose whatsoever.

“Animals focus on getting the job done,” Mark Nielsen, a psychologist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, told Science. “Humans seem to almost forget about the outcome and copy everything we see.”

That mimicry of unnecessary actions may contribute to the complexity of human cultures. After all, it's not really necessary to do the finger purse to make a point, but Italians do it anyway. Little Italians pick it up from adult Italians, and so the classic Italian communication style is passed on.

And thank goodness it is, because babies gesturing in Italian is absolutely adorable.

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