The Greek yes and no

Greek culture is at the crossroad between western civilisation and orient. Dialects, music, flavours of the food and ... greek temper are very close to those of some other eastern mediterranean cultures like Egyptian, Lebanese, and yes let's say it, Turkish. When it comes to speaking, the body language is very important... and specific in this part of the Mediterranean Basin.

Have you ever wondered why we nod our head when we say yes, and shake our head to say no?


This is something that you do every single day but you never think about. It just comes naturally to you and to everyone around you, but do you know why?


The first person to pose this question and conduct research about it was Charles Darwin, a naturalist who studied scientific theories and the process of natural selection.


He learned that most places nodded their head for yes and shook their head for no, however there were “some striking exceptions”.

Not only did Charles Darwin discover that customs would vary in some countries, he also discovered that these gestures we use so often in everyday life seem “innate to some extent”. Most articles today talk about how babies use their heads when dealing with food. Even Darwin wrote about it in his conclusions. “The first act of denial” in infants is when they refuse food that they do not want (Darwin). If they are being fed and it is something that they do not want to eat, they will turn their head away from it, or side to side.

That's how he found out that the majority of the countries visited would adopt the same process to say yes or no, nodding or shaking.

However, it is important to realize that not everyone practices the same customs that you do everyday. Australians hold up their right hand and turn it back and forth several times when it is about answering negatively. What are our Greek friends doing ? Let's come back to our main topic!

"Yes" and "No" -  respectively written Ναί (spelt: Ne) and Οχι (spelt: Ohee) sound already opposite to most of the Western sonorities. Furthermore, they come along with a specific head movement that might even confuse you a little bit more, and this is where the challenges resides!

Time for practice, for a start we invite you to watch this funny video made by a group of friends joking happily about themselves:


Source  :

Now, thanks to this Italian guy who seems to know quite well the Greek culture, let's learn how to say Yes, and repeat how to say No:

Source :

That's it, you are now a professional of the authentic Greek nodding and head shaking! Time for you to get some field training, sat in front of the Big Blue with some nice Cretan dishes laid on the table!

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