In this video (at 3:00) the instructor demonstrates the word klug by pointing to his forehead and making a circular motion with this finger. I've checked other videos on German hand gestures but this one doesn't appear, so is this particular gesture regional or peculiar to the speaker?

Note that English speakers have a very similar circular motion gesture which means "crazy". Apparently German speakers use a different gesture for this where you tap on your forehead, something which an English speaker might use to say "good thinking". Overall, though English and German have many gestures in common, there are are several used by German speakers which either have a different meaning to or are unused by English speakers.

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    For me, this circular motion gesture clearly means "crazy". To indicate "klug", I would raise my head a bit as well as my eyebrows while pointing with the index finger to the temple. – Björn Friedrich Jan 16 at 9:03
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    Just a side note: I'm hearing a slight accent when he speaks. So maybe he grew up in a non-German speaking country and the gesture is from there. – Arsak Jan 16 at 12:26
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    As an aside: I just hate how YouTube has recently started breaking video links with a timestamp by interrupting them after like 2 seconds to show its nag message about signing up (or another one about something else), then restarting the video from scratch. – O. R. Mapper Jan 16 at 12:37
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    @Arsak This is a subtle Swiss accent. So I'd assume he grew up somewhere in the Deutschschweiz. – idmean Jan 16 at 17:22
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    @idmean Oh wow, I'd never guessed. So, guess we have to figure out now, whether this gesture is common in Switzerland. Or maybe he picked it up in Taiwan (they mentioned in their intro-video that they teach German in Taiwan for 7 years) – Arsak Jan 16 at 18:58

I have never seen this gesture before, but that does't mean anything. However, when I listened to the video, I had the impression that the speaker has a slight Swiss accent. If he really is Swiss, this could be an explanation for a "non-standard" use of a gesture.

But, more important, have a look at this:

We are Luzi and Johannes and we work both as DAF German language teachers with together almost 20 years of teaching experience in Taiwan and other Asian countries.

This may be an indication that the speaker uses a gesture whose origin is not in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.

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    Thanks, I guess the main point is that it's either very regional, imported from somewhere else, or just a one-off. In any case, not common enough to worry about as a German learner. – RDBury Jan 17 at 2:48

I have seen this gesture before, but I never have seen it in the meaning »clever«. I think the man in the video just used the wrong gesture. The gesture in the video means »crazy« also in regions where German is spoken.

I don't know a gesture that really means »clever«. I just know a gesture that means »I have an idea«: You tap with your index finger on your temple or the side of your forehead, then point with the same finger up to the sky (without moving the hand too much away from your head) and make a happy face.

  • There‘s a gesture for „smart“ tapping (twice) on the side of one‘s head with the strechted forefinger. – not2savvy Jan 16 at 23:16
  • Thanks, as usual your answer provides a lot of interesting information. The video certainly gave the impression that the sign means something different in German, but I guess you can't assume that a typical German speaker is using typical German. I thought both answers were about equal in terms of being accepted; I think the deciding factor was picking up on the speaker's slight accent. – RDBury Jan 17 at 3:12

There is a colloquial 'Spruch' combined with a sequence of gestures:

Nicht hier (pointig to the tensed biceps), hier!! (pointig to the side of the forhead).

You say it ironically, when another person e.g. tried to open by force a jammed drawer or to undo a stuck screw or any object that you cannot move, and after several negative attempts you manage to open ist easily by bending the object intelligently, or by means of heat or by any knuck or trick without physical effort.

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