Albert Mehrabian‘s famously misinterpreted research about communication quotes 55% as the effect of the speaker’s body language in how we react to a message. I wonder if he carried out his research in Italy, where it has been said jokingly that the native speakers would be struck dumb if they were unable to use their hands when talking. There is however some truth in this.
Unlike many nations Italy does not have a legally recognised sign language for communicating with the deaf; not because they are less interested in the needs of those with this disability, but because gesture is so much a part of the language in any event, there are those in government who feel it unnecessary to use any other form, leading to protests from the deaf community.
Perhaps there is another kind of Italian phrasebook that should be used by tourists.
- Deaf ‘marginalised’ by Italian love of gesture (bbc.co.uk)