Weight is Value

  • Description of motion:  Both hands act as if they are weighing two objects of varying weight.   
  • Date Observed: 12/24/14 at dinner party.  Many people seated at table (10-12)
  • Example:  "I'm not sure which college to choose.  On one hand Dartmouth seems like a good choice, but on the other, there's UCLA."
  • Use:  Used when trying to decide between things.
  • Metaphor:  Weight is Value.  
  • Explanation:  The more something weighs, the more it is worth. (The inverse is also possible.)  We move our hands up and down trying to decide which hand is heavier/lighter, thus which one is more valuable, thus which one we should pick.  
  • Possible Origin:  People early on were greatly influenced by the valuing gold or other precious resources by weighing them.  The scale was an object that decided things, that put to rest speculation of how much something was actually worth.  When the idea of value is transferred from material objects to abstract concepts such as "decisions", the characteristic of weight remains.  More weight implies more of the thing itself.  The heavier the gold, the more of it there is. If the concept being considered is positive such as "love" then more weight implies more love.   If the concept is negative such as "anxiety" then more weight implies more anxiety, thus less value.

Imbalance is Bad

  • Description of motion:  A single hand extends out from the body and then teeters back and forth.  
  • Date Observed: 12/24/14 at dinner party.  Many people seated at table (10-12)
  • Example:  A:  "So how did that blind date go?"  B:  (Teeters hands in response)  
  • Use:  Often used as a means of qualification/non-commitment, to express a sense of uncertainty or lack of balance.
  • Metaphor:  Imbalance is Bad.  Imbalance is Untrustworthy.
  • Explanation:  In relation to the first example, the hand teeters because it is signifying a value judgement.  It is not signifying "bad" but a more qualifying "not great" or "so-so" as the imbalance in the gesture is usually slight and usually not very exaggerated or rapid.
  • Origin:  No one likes to fall down.  Some of our earliest negative experiences as toddlers/children is falling down, possibly because we've lost balance.  These falls can have a range of results from small scrapes on the knee to broken bones.  The idea of imbalance then has an early negative connotation, one that is easily applied to abstract thinking.  This carries over into our adult life as well.  If we are walking across a path of stones placed across a river.  We are 
  • Sound: There is a sound associated with this hand gesture that is usually a high pitched "Meh" that extends for awhile.   
  • Facial features:  Face scrunches up on one side, also adding to the idea of "imbalance" as the face itself is no longer "balanced".