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The V sign

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thomas

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This week's Vox populi at JT is really interesting. Have you ever wondered why Japanese make the V sign when being photographed? I did, and my wife could never explain that habit to my full satisfaction. Oh, they refer to it as "the peace sign".

:clap: :clap:

A genetical explanation:

Seiichi Igeta, 17

"I make the peace sign but I don't know why I do it, who invented it and when we started doing this. I think I've been doing it since I was born. The peace sign gesture must have been programmed in my DNA, or foreigners mind-controlled Japanese to make the peace sign subconsciously when we pose for a photo to keep the peace after the war."
A linguistic approach:

Shuhei Yodogawa, 30

"Peace is a sign made by two fingers, but when you say "ni" (two) in Japanese, you open your mouth horizontally. That is why we make the V sign although we do not say "ni" to take a photo. We still say peace in Japlish. The contradiction makes me think of who started the gesture. It must have come from a foreign country since it is katakana. Anyhow, how the hell can making such a gesture for a photo be a wish for peace? This sort of group-oriented behavior without any reason illustrates a symbol of Japanese subculture."
=> http://news.japantoday.com/e/?content=popvox&id=358&display=all

 

jeisan

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well hmm i know in america people used to make that sign alot especially in the 60s, though ive never heard called a 'V sign'. probally some japanese saw pictures of this and decided that it was a cool thing to do in photos. plus we always tell people to say 'cheese' whenever we take a photo to get them to smile without actually having to smile. also 'peace' and 'cheese' sound similar and have basicly the same effect on your face when said. and if your going to be saying peace when your having a photo taken why not put up the sign as well. of course i made all this up in about 5 minutes so dont take my word for it.

on a sidenote, ive never heard that the peace or "V" sign meant 'F* you' either
 

Iron Chef

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Yeah, I always thought it a bit odd to see so many people use the peace sign while I was there but never really gave it much thought... Then one day, I found myself looking over my photo collecton and lo and behold there I was grinning sheepishly and doing the same thing in about 90% of all of my pictures with me in them. Go figure, lol.
:clap: :clap:
 

Twisted

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Well, this is not restricted to Japan. In Thailand they do the same, but perhaps that's because other asian countries take over a lot of trends from Japan.
 

lexico

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I wonder if the 1969 film M.A.S.H. tells something about the V sign. :)
Winston Churchill used it for Victory or we shall preVail, while the anti-war, anti-nuclear activitists of the 1960's started using it for peaceful demonstrations signifying non-Violence under extreme suppression measures, perhaps singing "We shall overcome~ !", "Liberation of Algiers", or "Flower Power ~".

1) :win: 2) :v: 3) :thumbsup: 4) :51:

These are all good realisations of the peace sign, however nothing beats the three-pronged Vulcan blessing.
 

Mike Cash

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A really odd thing is that most Japanese don't even realize they're doing it, and furthermore seem not to even notice them in their pictures.

I remember a high school girl showing me a group photo taken on a school trip. There were about 50 girls in the picture and about 70 or 80 peace signs. (We counted!)

Though the photo looked like a huge mass of peace signs to me and it was the first thing that struck me, nobody else present who saw the picture (all Japanese) noticed them at all.

Getting posed photos of Japanese minus peace signs in many situations is pretty much a hopeless task.
 

Mycernius

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jeisan said:
on a sidenote, ive never heard that the peace or "V" sign meant 'F* you' either
If you reverse the peace sign (back of the hand away from you) you get what is known a the 'V' sign in England and it does mean f*** you. It originates from the English archers who used to give it to the French before a battle. The two fingers were used by archers and when the French captured an archer they would cut off those two fingers. Giving the V to them meant 'I have still got my fingers and I can kill you'
 

budd

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"This sort of group-oriented behavior without any reason illustrates a symbol of Japanese subculture."

pinpon!
i am also pseudo-linking the louie vuitton pocketbook thread
 

lexico

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I really like this gentleman's peace sign; the most genuine I've seen recently ! [pong]:biggrin: :148: :51: :45: [/pong]
Chin said:
There are people who want to talk about the differences between us,
but Japan and China are both Asian countries.
We need to see beyond our problems and start working together.
We've got way more in common with China than the West.
BBC News on the Web: [/CENTER]http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/05/asia_pac_japanese_views_on_china/html/3.stm
 

ArmandV

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Maybe they are Nixon fans?
 

-Rudel-

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Most girls love Blonde Hair, Blue Freaks like me...lol
 

lexico

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Actually that is how it goes in Korea; V for victory; Veni, Vidi, Vinci. But I've always felt funny about it. After learning the little story about Winston Churchill, and comparing it with the 1960's peace symbolism, I've always felt that "victory" was a far inferior symbolism than "peace."

Another prankish symbolism would be the devil's horn people (more like kids) make behind someone's head. It might also stand for the devil's fork, or an alien's or snail's antena.
 

-Rudel-

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That V sign behind the kid's head are bunny ears. At least growing up in America that is what we learn. And then when you hit the mid-late teens, it can mean that you want to spend 5 minutes in bed with that person.

Ususally the devil sign is using your Index and Pinky finger. Very similar to what you see at Music Concerts to show that, that band is awsome. Perhaps a short way of the I Love you sign using the Thumb, Index and Pinky finger.
 

lexico

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-Rudel- said:
That V sign behind the kid's head are bunny ears. At least growing up in America that is what we learn. And then when you hit the mid-late teens, it can mean that you want to spend 5 minutes in bed with that person.
That is soooo interesting; bunnies connected to fertility and children makes good sense. Perhaps it had something to do with the Easter fest ?
Ususally the devil sign is using your Index and Pinky finger. Very similar to what you see at Music Concerts to show that, that band is awsome. Perhaps a short way of the I Love you sign using the Thumb, Index and Pinky finger.
The index and the pinky extended would be the letter Y in ASL; maybe short for "Yes !" or "Yeah !"
 

ArmandV

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A couple of days ago, I came across this photo taken during my 2001 trip to Japan. This was at a Chinese restaurant in the Nakano section of Tokyo. The gal giving the "V" sign is Hiroku Sakurai from the original
"Ultraman."

 

-Rudel-

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lexico said:
That is soooo interesting; bunnies connected to fertility and children makes good sense. Perhaps it had something to do with the Easter fest ?The index and the pinky extended would be the letter Y in ASL; maybe short for "Yes !" or "Yeah !"
I'm not sure. It's similar to the V sign for the Japan culture. We don't know why we do it...lol. But as a kid we did it because it was funny. :)

I didn't know that having your index/pinky extended meant Y in ASL.
You could be right, but how did it transfer over to concert shows?...hahaha

Let's ask Mr. Owl. :p
 

Shibuyaexpat

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Mycernius said:
If you reverse the peace sign (back of the hand away from you) you get what is known a the 'V' sign in England and it does mean f*** you. It originates from the English archers who used to give it to the French before a battle. The two fingers were used by archers and when the French captured an archer they would cut off those two fingers. Giving the V to them meant 'I have still got my fingers and I can kill you'
I read somewhere that Churchill's use of the V sign was very deliberate, as it was a way rally the English against the Germans during WW2. Imagine an American president flippin' the bird or a Korean president sliding his thumb between his index and middle fingers. :lol:
 

lexico

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What about the mid-finger ?

Mycernius said:
Giving the V to them meant 'I have still got my fingers and I can kill you'
Shibuyaexpat said:
I read somewhere that Churchill's use of the V sign was very deliberate, as it was a way rally the English against the Germans during WW2. Imagine an American president flippin' the bird or a Korean president sliding his thumb between his index and middle fingers. :lol:
Then could it be that the middle finger meant, "I still have one finger left; and it cries out for the other that you took ! Take this ! For revenge !"
 

Apollo

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I have read that the V-sign in photographs has its origins from the Allied Occupation of Japan.
This V-sign of course meant "for victory," and the American and Allied occupation forces used this sign frequently, hence, the Japanese adopted this gesture into their culture - probably thinking this was a common gesture.
 

Mycernius

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lexico said:
Then could it be that the middle finger meant, "I still have one finger left; and it cries out for the other that you took ! Take this ! For revenge !"
LOL. :D
Actually the middle finger gesture, which is fondly used by Americans, is Roman in origin. Probably came across the pond with Italian immigrants in the late 19th/early 20th century.
pointless fact for the day :p
 

Dekamaster

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The V sign was used for political campaigns purposes here in the Philippines. In the 1970s, it was the campaign symbol of then-President Marcos. It was construed as a V-ictory sign then.
 

Shibuyaexpat

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The only time I've ever used the V-sign in Japan is at bars, signalling for the nice waiter to bring me two beers.
 

nice gaijin

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Miss_apollo7 said:
I have read that the V-sign in photographs has its origins from the Allied Occupation of Japan.
This V-sign of course meant "for victory," and the American and Allied occupation forces used this sign frequently, hence, the Japanese adopted this gesture into their culture - probably thinking this was a common gesture.
This is also my understanding of how the gesture was introduced into Japanese culture. Nowadays it's just considered "something you do when your photo is taken." No one I've talked to knew of any meaning beyond that.

I think lexico's bunny ears theory is a bit far-reaching... how would you explain the "moose antlers" kids give as a typical response to the bunny ears (ten fingers are better than two!)
 

Doc

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Mycernius said:
If you reverse the peace sign (back of the hand away from you) you get what is known a the 'V' sign in England and it does mean f*** you. It originates from the English archers who used to give it to the French before a battle. The two fingers were used by archers and when the French captured an archer they would cut off those two fingers. Giving the V to them meant 'I have still got my fingers and I can kill you'
In all honesty I prefer the Greek way of saying f*** you with the finger. At least that's a universal sign people in this day and age understand. ;-)

Doc :D
 
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