Talk:Shaka sign

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POV check[edit]

I've added the POV check as there seems to be competing shaka origin theories floating around, and only one is included in the present article. --Viriditas | Talk 11:49, 31 July 2005 (UTC)

And a big mahalo for adding it too, because I grew up in the Islands and this is the very first time I've ever heard this story. "Chee, missionary guys like cockaroach everyteeng—Mormons dem makeeng like dey own da culture awreddy—even shaka sign suppoze stay Mormon now." I'm shaka'ed, I tell you, shaka'ed... <g> --IslandGyrl 20:17, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

edit - this site may help

One reason to accept this version is that it's the only one which points to a verifiable person and time, not just some unknown rumor and "always been." Anyone have an example of the shaka sign being used before the 1940s? --WindwardWoody 04:06, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

Removed LDS POV[edit]

I edited the article to make it clear that the hukilau theory is only a theory. Other theories could be added. I also removed all the gratuitous references to the LDS, Brigham Young, etc. Zora 00:24, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

So, what you're saying is that you have no other theory to offer, but you don't like this one so you will cut this one to the bare bones, rather than explain why people would emulate Kalili in the first place? Keith 7 February 2006

This is not the place to proselytize for the LDS. The theory is only a theory and until we have some kind of proof, we don't emphasize one theory over another, or give it more space. Zora 05:09, 8 February 2006 (UTC)


Which way should the Shaka sign be oriented - with knuckles facing the recipient, or with palm facing them? Is doing it backwards considered rude or merely silly? Does it not matter which direction it's facing? This isn't clear in the article and someone who knows the answer should add it. -Kasreyn 06:00, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

Oh, I've always seen it with the palm out. That's what comes naturally. But people tend to sorta rotate the wrist back and forth to emphasize the sign. Zora 06:25, 19 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Zora! Should we add to the article that it's unimportant which way the sign is facing, or that it should be palm-out? I'm sure I'm not the first who's been confused by that. -Kasreyn 23:22, 19 February 2006 (UTC)
Oops, never mind. It's already in the article. *blush* -Kasreyn 23:24, 19 February 2006 (UTC)
No need to blush. After your question, I added it to the article. Zora 23:30, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

Actually, I spent a couple years living on Hawaii and I always saw it the other way around. I removed the line from the article. zellin t / c 01:44, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Um, I've lived in Hawai'i 30 years. I think you're wrong. Zora 03:08, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
Thinking about it, I think it goes either way, depending on where the signer and signee are standing. If I'm giving the sign with my right hand to someone on either side of me, I hold it thumb towards me, so someone on the left of me gets "palm out" and someone on my right will get "palm in". To someone directly in front, like I said, I usually see palm in, but I guess it could be either. zellin t / c 05:57, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
I've seen it both ways but where I come from, mostly it's done w/ the palm facing towards the person making the sign. Mamoahina (talk) 20:56, 7 October 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. The confusion arises from the position of the person making the sign and the hand that is used. The "classic" shaka is rotated back and forth as Zora observes, although this appears more of an old skool display. There are also inventive ways of giving the shaka, such as shaking a fist as if you have something in it, and then sprouting a shaka at the last second, etc. Viriditas (talk) 21:30, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

The Picture[edit]

Why is the picture of a white hand giving the shaka? a little condescending no? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

No. Anybody can give a shaka. We come in all colors in Hawai'i and we don't care much about color. Zora 04:39, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
I'll shaka that! Maikel (talk) 13:23, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
I will have to think about the philosophical or political question of whether racial profiling is appropriate on Wikipedia. But following this lead, you can click on the image, and it is posted as something like "gesture with thumb and forefingers extended" by someone who lives in San Jose and has posted Honolulu "tourist photos". Technically an "authentic Hawaiian" (whatever the race) might (or might not) make some tiny detail about the gesture differently than someone less familiar with the culture, and therefore, regardless of its provenance, this is a hint suggesting that the gesture photo could be updated. I personally have no standing to say whether the update matters, but I bring this up to actualize the philosophical issue. (talk) 23:46, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Question and possible additional origins[edit]

-- Isn't the finger supposed to point to the east coast and the thumb point to the west? that's what i've always been told?

oh and I've got an additional version of the origins of the shaka and it makes quite a bit of sense; it's that it was the position the hand would take when British soldiers would drink from their uniquely horn shaped flagons, with the thumb holding the flagon near the mouth and the finger following to it's end point. Supposedly the Shaka started as a mocking imitation of this and then spread to being the wave that we all know and love. =) ...I still prefer the dynamite fishing one though...


Never heard east-west thing. As for British soldiers -- WHAT British soldiers? What flagons? British marines here with Lord George Paulet did not endear themselves to anyone, and they were here briefly. Brits don't drink from flagons. Zora 03:57, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
The Brits' influence was neither positive nor long-lived (the only identifiable remnant is in the flag). However, there was that question above, if anyone saw shaka before the 1940s, which is long after the Brits left. 02:52, 20 October 2006 (UTC)


Ronaldinho, who has been awarded FIFA World Footballer of the year, European Player of the year, among other awards, also adopted the "shaka" and would often use it as a gesture towards his fans.

This statement is rather funny. Brazilians have using the shaka sign for a while and it’s very common. I seriously doubt this is particular to Ronaldinho. --moyogo 15:27, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

The shaka sign is extremely common in Brazil, which shares Portuguese roots with Hawaii, along with the ukelele which also came to Hawaii from Portugal, I don't believe it originated in Hawaii only, it has to do with Portuguese culture, and I remember reading about it in the library back in Hawaii growing up, I just don't remember the book title I'm sorry. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:39, 18 October 2010 (UTC)

Right, but Brazilians refer to it as HANGI LUCI (Hang Loose), which they attribute to surfers. If you knew of the Portuguese culture, the Madeirans and Azoreans specifically don't use this sign so no, it didn't originate any other place but in Hawaii, as this article mentions Hamana Kalili.
Also, the ukulele or cavaquinho, machete de braga or any other word they used for it came from the island of Madeira. The ukulele's tuning however is different from the modern cavaquinho. Mamoahina (talk) 05:08, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

"east coast of Brazil" - I wonder what other coast there is in Brazil. (talk) 06:28, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

Hamana Kalili[edit]

The name is actually Hamana Kalili, not Kalili Hamana. Even the paper wrote it correctly. It just needs to be in reverse. Also, it was Libby Espina who had a show "Shocker Theater" back in the 70s or so and he would do that sign as his call sign and said it with a pidgin accent, hence the term - shaka came out of it. He later used it in his dealership. Also, a lot of Brazilians use the shaka sign now and the sign has spread all over thanks to the surfing culture and the media. And both ways (front/back) are used in the islands. Mamoahina 02:35, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Famous people who use the "Shaka"[edit]

I have realized seven time Formula One World Champion, Michael Schumacher likes to use this sign very often too. Latest example: But I have seen him doing it several times before as well. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:01, 28 November 2007 (UTC)


Why would the sign also be called EEE, as claimed in the article? Maikel (talk) 13:24, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Unsourced theories[edit]

Moved from main page: Viriditas (talk) 08:35, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

A second theory is that the "shaka" sign had to do with marble playing. The position of the hand after shooting the "kini" (marble) is in the form of shaka. The hand sign came to mean sharp or accurate.[citation needed] A third theory is that the word was originally "shark eye". Holding the hand with the pinkie and thumb extended represented the shark head, with the thumb and fingers being the eyes. To say "shaka" (or "shark eye") to someone and flash the "shark eye" hand is said to have been considered a compliment, as the shark is highly respected in Hawaiian culture.[citation needed]

Also, I never heard of anyone on Molokai originating this sign. I definitely would know this, especially since people of Molokai take pride with things originating on their island like hula and ho'opi'opi'o sorcery. Mamoahina (talk) 05:14, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

OR removed[edit]

In Britain and Northern Europe the symbol is used as a signal for owners of older model Volkswagen vans when passing on roads. The silhouette of the hand reveals a "W"-shaped outline along the top of the hand standing for Volkswagen.

In Portugal, Spain, and other Spanish or Portuguese speaking countries, if the thumb points to the mouth, it is used to indicate the drinking of alcohol, since it is similar the shape of a porrón vessel. This is also true in Italy, North America, Russia, and Germany.

The sign has nothing to do specifically with drinking alcohol, just simply drinking, in general. It also has nothing to do with any specific drinking vessels and porrón-like vessels aren't even used in Portugal or in any other Portuguese speaking countries that I know of, either. (talk) 07:20, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

In Australia, the same gesture mentioned above, refers to "smoking a pipe", more commonly that of marijuana. Again, in Italy, Germany, and the US, the thumb close to one's ear and the smallest finger close to the mouth means: call me or something referred to phone calls. Bringing the thumb close to nose means: something referred to a lie ("the elongation of Pinocchio's nose").

In Australia, it is used by Skateboarders and represents Gnarly, often used after a fellow skateboarder has landing a trick. It is also used on greeting.

In New Zealand, it is used by the gang Mongrel Mob, possibly because E-E-E can be rotated to M-M-M, meaning Mighty Mongrel Mob. Also can mean to smoke P (Methamphetamine) through a glass pipe.

Have re-inserted Mongrel Mob usage, with added source. RadishSlice (talk) 13:13, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

It is similar to American Sign Language letter "Y", where a fist is also made with only the thumb and smallest finger extended.

In China, it is also the sign for the number six.

In India and Venezuela, the sign is used colloquially as a reference to sexual intercourse, and the hand may be moved in the direction of the smallest finger, as to mimic penetration.

In Thailand, the sign is used to refer to the country band Carabao (คาราบาว), in this case the thumb and little finger representing the horns of the water buffalo, as this is the meaning of the word Carabao.

In Serbia, it depicts the profane slang expression "do jaja". This expression is used to describe something as very good. Literally translated, it means "next to testicles", in a sense that is as "high" as that. Since the middle finger is a symbol of the penis, index and ring finger are considered "testicles", hence the thumb and the little finger are "next to testicles".

In Romania, the sign is accompanied by a rapid sideways jiggling of the wrist and it describes the Balkan motif of "smecherie", an untranslatable Romanian word meaning a mixture of good fortune, prosperity, financial success and coolness.

In the University of Texas at El Paso the sign is known as the Miners pickaxe and used in football games and pep rallies.

At the University of South Carolina the sign is known as "the Spur". It represents the spur of a gamecock and is used at football games and pep rallies to cheer on the Gamecocks.

At Brigham Young University the sign, due to its resemblence to the letter "y" in American Sign language, is used at sporting events. The university nickname is "the Y."

A similar gesture is the "call me" sign, which also has the smallest finger and thumb outstretched, but then also holds it up to the ear, to signify a telephone. This gesture is a common way to silently tell someone to call him or her to continue a conversation in private, or that a call has arrived for them which they should go answer.

This is also common in Portugal. Quickly and briefly shaking (rotating) the hand while gesturing, to signify the phone "ringing", is also used to add emphasis, although this was more common in the old days of land line phones. (talk) 07:20, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

The shaka is also widespread in the skydiving world, where it is usually performed by the jumpers when the plane reaches its maximum altitude, right before skydivers leave the plane for the jump. The tradition is for every skydiver to engage in a dap greeting with his fellow jumpers, thereby wishing them a safe and enjoyable jump, and somehow taming his own fears. One form of this traditional greeting that seems widespread, at least among the European and American skydiving communities, involves a slap followed by a fist bump and the shaka. It is believed that this tradition emerged as a way of making fun of popular sports such as surfing and snowboarding, whose participants are considered as self-absorbed, but stuck among skydivers, and is now passed along to younger generations.

Other signs close in form are the Hook 'em Horns and corna.

Also known as a 'Sharky' by the South Barwon FC. Used often as a celebration gesture.

Obama's Inauguration[edit]

Is there any way to confirm that he was giving a shaka? He could have very well been in the process of making a "call me" motion (which would be much more in character with his facial expression in that picture). NeverWorker (Drop me a line) 19:31, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Right or Left Hand ?[edit]

Is the shaka sign made with the right or the left hand ? (talk) 08:33, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

Needs rewrite[edit]

This entire article, esp. the introduction does not meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The punctuated pop culture references to "laxbros" and incorrectly placed references to other articles are unprofessional and do not meet the encyclopedia's standards. (talk) 17:36, 29 December 2010 (UTC)

Name origin[edit]

Why is it called "shaka"? (talk) 21:23, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

According to what my Portuguese friend said, David "Lippy" Espinda who was popularized it when he did ads for his cars carried it over to his show known as SHOCKER THEATER and it was the local pronunciation of "shocker" that became "shaka". My friend was not the only one mentioned this, but obviously it was older people who remembered Lippy's Shocker Theater show. Mamoahina (talk) 05:12, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Seems worthwhile to add this information to an "Etymology" section. It is uncertain (like other information in the article), but that is common with etymologies generally, and as long as it is designated as such, there is no danger of overstatement. Dr hilto (talk) 15:46, 9 September 2012 (UTC)

origin theory[edit]

From the lede:

The Shaka sign may have been derived from early natives' use of a hand signal which symbolized the island of Hawaii, as the outline when viewed from front with thumb up is similar in appearance.

And when did the early natives develop cartography that would enable them to see the shape of the Big Island as seen from space? When I search for "view from Mauna Kea", all the pages are ecstatic about the stars and being above the clouds, but I find no mention of seeing the coastline. The view to the south in particular would, I expect, be blocked by Mauna Loa.

Since this theory is both improbable and unsourced, I am deleting it.-- Thnidu (talk) 01:23, 21 April 2016 (UTC)


In all this talk there's no indication of how to pronounce "shaka". Is the first "a" as in "ha-ha" or as in "shake"?

OK, I see the "shocker" theory up above, so I guess it's /'ʃɑkɑ/ or /'ʃɑkə/. Whichever, or if (as is likely) it varies between Hawaiians and others, it/they should be in the lede section. -- Thnidu (talk) 01:29, 21 April 2016 (UTC)

Puerto Rico[edit]

There have been repeated attempts to add Puerto Rico as a place / culture where the shaka sign is used, most of them by the same IP,, marked below with ⬅. None of them are referenced, and they have been repeatedly reverted by bots and by different editors, most of them IP. Two of the changes replaced "Hawaii" with "Hawaii and puerto rico" [sic] in category links, resulting in the category redlinks Hawaii and puerto rico culture and Symbols of Hawaii and puerto rico

I am manually reverting all of these changes, as they are all unreferenced and mostly from the same anonymous editor, whose behavior constitutes a kind of one-against-many edit warring, in spirit if not literally (as they have not always been the same strings). I am also requesting semi-protection for this page.

Below is a list of edits connected with inserting Puerto Rico into the article, and reversions thereof, found with the help of AWB. This list contains all of them: AWB found no previous occurrences of "puerto ric" all the way back to the creation of the article, 00:14, 25 December 2004. (AWB ignores case. I searched for "puerto ric" to find "Puerto Rican" as well as "Puerto Rico", and "puertorr" to catch forms of the Spanish word "puertorriqueño".) I have edited the version headers and changes for readability.

Revision as of 04:29, 28 April 2015 ⬅
Especially in Puerto Rico

Revision as of 04:30, 28 April 2015
(rv unsourced)
Especially in Puerto Rico

Revision as of 04:33, 28 April 2015 ⬅
especially in Puerto Rico because surf culture is very popular there aswell

Revision as of 03:41, 7 May 2015
. People also use it to allow people in cars to go or to say thank you for letting them go

Revision as of 03:41, 7 May 2015
ClueBot NG
m (Reverting possible vandalism by to version by False positive? Report it. Thanks, ClueBot NG. (2225658) (Bot))
. People also use it to allow people in cars to go or to say thank you for letting them go

Revision as of 05:28, 9 June 2015 ⬅
and Puerto Rican

Revision as of 05:44, 9 June 2015 ⬅
and cudtoms
. Puerto Rico is the first and only Caribbean and Latin country to adopt the shaka symbol and Hawaiian culture and language and mix it with puerto rican spanish and custom and culture since the 1960s and many famous surfers from puerto rico such as jotge machuca stsrred this back in the 1960s and in puerto rico

Revision as of 15:03, 9 June 2015
cudtoms → customs

Revision as of 00:08, 14 June 2015
especially in Puerto Rico because surf culture is very popular there as well. Puerto Rico is the first and only Caribbean and Latin country to adopt the shaka symbol and Hawaiian culture and language and mix it with puerto rican spanish and custom and culture since the 1960s and many famous surfers from puerto rico such as jotge machuca stsrred this back in the 1960s and in puerto rico.

Revision as of 02:45, 28 August 2015 (edit) (undo)
and Puerto Rican

Revision as of 05:50, 20 June 2016 (edit) (undo) ⬅
In Puerto Rico it is also very common especially among surfers and also

Revision as of 09:42, 9 July 2016 (edit) (undo) ⬅
usually done as a greeting with a slight flick of the wrist but it also means "todo chevere o bien"which means everything is cool or good in spanish a it is

Revision as of 09:46, 9 July 2016 (edit) (undo) ⬅
Puerto Rico

Revision as of 00:53, 13 July 2016 (edit) (undo)
puertovricans → puertoricans

Latest revision as of 02:08, 13 July 2016 (edit) (undo)
puertoricans → Puerto Ricans

Please {{Ping}} me to discuss. --Thnidu (talk) 09:06, 13 July 2016 (UTC)