At a journalism conference a few years ago, Jennifer 8. Lee, vice-chair of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee, was intrigued by a hand gesture her friend kept making. Adriano Farano, an Italian media entrepreneur deep in discussion about limoncello, kept pinching his fingers together and moving his hand up and down.
He explained to Lee that it means “What do you want?” in English — “Ma che vuò?” in Italian. It’s one of the most common hand gestures that Italians make when communicating nonverbally, according to Farano.