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Shakira’s Super Bowl ‘tongue-wiggle’ was tribute to her Arabic heritage

Shakira’s “tongue-wiggle” movement that went viral during her Super Bowl Halftime Show performance was in fact a nod to her Arabic heritage.

The star thrilled fans as she co-headlined the show with Jennifer Lopez, with one moment from the Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) star’s performance going viral on social media.

During the brief clip, the 43-year-old Colombian artist looked straight at the camera and wiggled her tongue while making a sound – leaving fans puzzled as to what the gesture represented.

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However, according to users on social media, Shakira was actually nodding to her Lebanese heritage.

The action is called a zaghrouta, or ululation in English, and is a long, wavering, high-pitched vocal sound accompanied by a rapid back and forth movement of the tongue. It’s used by women in Middle Eastern and North African cultures to express joy and strong emotions.

Slamming the viral posts as “disrespectful”, one Twitter user noted that her performance included multiple references to Arab culture, adding: “She had belly dancing, a mijwiz and a derbeke, performed ‘Ojos Asi’ which was one of the few Shakira songs to have Arabic in it.”

While the She Wolf singer was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia, her paternal grandparents are from Lebanon. Her last name is also Mebarak – a common Arabic name.

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