TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Why does nodding the head (or shaking the head) universally mean "yes" (or "no")?

With so many cultures, languages, etc around the world, why is it that a simple nod of the head will universally mean yes?

Share:
  • thumb
    Jul 6 2012: May be useful:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nod_(gesture)

    As far as I know, partially in Greece, Yugoslavia , Bulgaria and Turkey a nodding is inversed in its meaning.
    So who is from this country may correct me, yet without using head-gestures, please... :o)
  • Jul 6 2012: Wow, thanks Jan-Bernd!

    Very interesting indeed - I like the theory about babies and breast-feeding
  • Jul 6 2012: Oh wow, that's very interesting, wonder where that would be? I'm assuming somewhere very remote? Just thinking about how "language" passes down from generation to generation, and how it evolves along the way...
  • thumb
    Jul 6 2012: Mikey, in one of my courses I learned that there are actually cultures where the patterns are reversed so no is a nod and swivelling the head side to side means yes. I cannot remember just now where they are.