What is a Kiss?


Adam Navis and Liz Waid tell about an act that many people like. But when you think about it, it is a little gross! What is a kiss and why do people do it?

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Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Adam Navis.

Voice 2

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

As humans, we do some strange things. We jump out of airplanes. We make enough bombs to blow up the whole world. We invent sports and then spend much of our lives playing or watching them. We cry during sad films even though we know the actors are not really dying. But it can be the small, common things humans do that are really the most strange.

Voice 2  
For example, two people are in love. They like to spend time together. They feel good when they are together. They share many interests. They have similar goals for the future. But here is the strange thing. One way they show each other love is to take their mouths and press them together. They may even put their tongues into each other’s mouth! They may even do this for a long time. Today’s Spotlight is on kissing!
Voice 1  

What is a kiss? Have you ever thought about it? Have you thought about all the different kisses you might give, or someone might give you?

Voice 2  

There are three main kinds of kisses. First, there are kisses between parents and children. Kisses for children should be short, non-sexual, and on appropriate places like heads and hands. These kisses help children understand they are special and loved.

Voice 1

Second, there are kisses of greeting. These kinds of kisses are different from country to country. They are governed by the rules of that culture. For example, in Argentina, when two people meet, they give each other a kiss on the right side of the face — the cheek. But it is usually not a real kiss. The cheeks touch and they make a small kissing sound. No lips or mouths touch at all.

Voice 2  

In some places of Italy, people greet with not one, but two cheek kisses. They first kiss one side. Then they kiss the other side. In the Netherlands, people kiss three times: first one side, then the other, then back to the first side. And some places have even more complex rules about greeting kisses. People in many countries in the Middle East greet each other with a kiss. But this is not appropriate between everyone. An unmarried man and unmarried woman should not kiss. So what do you do if you are travelling and don’t know what to do? A good rule is: if you do not know what to do, do not kiss.

Voice 1  

But there is one more kind of kiss. And it is far more complex than the first two. The third kind of kiss is the romantic kiss. But what is romantic about it? Noam Shpancer teaches psychology at Otterbein University. In Psychology Today, he wrote,

Voice 3  

“One must admit that kissing is more than a bit strange. Why would the exchange of mouth fluids and left over pieces of food be a good thing, even a sign of passionate love? The romantic kiss is very common. So it must play an important part in the dance of human sexuality. But what exactly is that part?”

Voice 2  

Scientists do not agree about why people kiss when they are in love. But there are many ideas. The first idea is that kissing helps us understand other people in a chemical way. When we kiss someone we get close to them. We smell their body and their breath. We taste their mouth. We feel their face. The fluids in their mouth carry chemical signals that may communicate to our brain if they are a good mate.

Voice 1  

Most animals do not kiss. But they are much better at smelling things than humans. Humans need to be much closer to each other to smell. Melissa Hogenboom wrote for BBC.com,

Voice 4  

“Humans have a terrible sense of smell. We learn a lot from getting close. Smell is not the only way we measure someone as a mate. But studies have shown that smell is an important part in choosing a mate.”

Voice 2  

When we kiss another person, we bring them close to us. We show them that we trust them. We accept any sickness they may have. A kiss creates closeness between people. Shpancer explains this.

Voice 3  

“Kissing appears to have two main uses. In the short-term, the kiss is more sexual. It serves as a tool for choosing a good sexual partner. In the long-term the kiss expresses a connection between people. It is a way to keep and build feelings of closeness in the relationship.”

Voice 1  

But not everyone likes kissing. For some people, this is a personal choice. Some people do not like to be touched. They do not like the idea of sharing mouth fluids with another person. There are also general differences between men and women. Men may think kissing should lead to sex. Women are more likely to think kissing is a way to connect with another person.

Voice 2  

Kissing is not part of every culture. If you watch films and television, it is easy to believe that romantic kissing is part of life everywhere in the world. But a study published in American Anthropologist shows that kissing is not as common as people may believe. Lindsey Bever wrote about this study for The Washington Post. She wrote,

Voice 5  

“Researchers at the University of Nevada and Indiana University found fewer than half of the world’s cultures kiss in a romantic way. Many cultures do consider kissing to be a romantic or sexual act. But, other cultures have called kissing ‘gross’, something to make them sick. They ask why anyone would ‘share their dinner’.”

Voice 1  

A kiss means different things to different people. It could be something that is strange and unwelcome. It could mean, “Hello, nice to meet you”. Or it could mean, “I love you and want to be with you forever”. But at its most simple, kissing is just one way that some people express their love.

Voice 2  

What do you think about kissing? Is kissing part of your culture? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 1  

The writer of this program was Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘What is a Kiss?’

Voice 2  

Look for our free official app in the Google Play Store and in iTunes. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Is kissing common in your culture? How does your culture use kissing?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
regis_f
said on April 30, 2018

When I traveled to Argentina, I saw two-man greeting each other with a kiss. I found it quite odd, but I realized that it was very common in their culture. Here in Brazil, we usually kiss to greet someone, like in Argentina, but only when the opposite sex is women. There are some regions here where people usually greet with two or even three kisses on the cheek. I personally when meeting a new person, prefer just extend my hand for a handshake.

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Honneur
said on April 30, 2018

kissing is a very good thing, but it has now been trivialized as a voluntary exchange of spit. If the kissed person has some purulent throat disease, the kiss can be a real tragedy.

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Jaime Velasco OrdoƱez
said on May 01, 2018

I have always seen that the kisses is gives to people who have some feeling whether is relationship of couple or yours siblings or son, daughter etc, doesn’t matter the kind of relationship but the important is that during the kiss , awakes more feeling

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agaz
said on July 19, 2018

In my company we kiss with each other because it means I like somebody. It is kind of greeting. It is nice for me when one of my co-worker likes me.

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PhongHoai
said on October 08, 2018

In Viet Nam. If you kiss a strange person in the first time, you can have a smack on your face. hi hi.