Sie sind auf Seite 1von 9

British Culture Social Taboos

24 Apr 2011 16 Comments by taramoyle in Class Issues, Daily Life in Medway, Kent, Etiquette, Married to a Brit, Non-EU Passport Holder Tags: American expat, American expat married to a Brit, American married to a Brit, Americans and British, British culture, British etiquette British social tabooswhat are they? After nine months of being here, I still feel clueless. I know that Brits generally regard Americans as louder, more arrogant, and geographically ignorant, but if we still venture out and risk making fools of ourselves, what rules might we avoid?

Before coming to the UK, I tried to read up a bit about major social dos and donts. I read that Brits frown on tardiness, overt religious references, and that they have a hard time accepting earnest compliments. They take their tea seriously from what I can tell, no matter how manly the man, so dont mess with their cup. (A hilarious parody of all the herbal varieties of tea out there and manliness right here.) Ive noticed, in some group situations, that women will speak very quietly, often at an inaudible level. A few other expats have remarked that British women usually adhere more to traditional female roles, and might avoid appearing aggressive, confident, or dynamic. Of course this exists in the US too, and as a previous tomboy/princess-warrior/Tank Girl, Ive rarely felt comfortable in traditional female environs. In London, its all tights, skirts, and heels, and almost always straightened long hair. Not so many earthy, sporty girls.

Does not worry about being nice.

WWTGD? Hugging. I know thats a no-no. When I first met C.s family, I asked what I should doif I should hug them, shake hands, or do the cheek kiss. Nothing, he said. Definitely not hugging. Dont hug them. I was a little worried, as thats how I convey warmth where Im from. To not even shake hands would seem cold. It did.

The shaking hands thing seems very awkward, especially in professional or semi-professional situations. I never know if I should shake, which would be my usual inclination, or to not shake. If in a casual situation in the US, some folks, especially if female and shy, might not shake and that would be fine, but if one extended a hand that would rarely look weird. Im never sure if it looks weird here or not.

Hugging tigers: a no-brainer. One thing I have observed is that people dont talk about what they do as much as they do in the US, and they rarely ask. Definitely appreciate this, and would even if I was working. And no inquiries about where I went to school, which is such a big issue in the US. I guess the other thing would be being personal in any waymaking folks who are reserved uncomfortable. Im sure this varies from person to person, but Ive definitely felt that I need to avoid saying anything about my life whatsoever with some sets of company. This causes all sorts of confusion with C. and me, because he maintains that people want to get to know me, but since I cant read people here I sometimes get self-conscious that Im too expressive, too open, just plain too much in contrast to the English. When I get excited I talk with my hands, I raise my voice, and may even (gasp!) use fanciful language (one of C.s favorite accusations). C. is constantly telling me use my inside voice and says that I exaggerate. (Gasp again.) Along with the being too personal thing, I often feel too blunt, which is something I struggled with a lot in Richmond. Chicagoans dont mince words, and also being a Sagittarius (or its my personality if youre one who thinks the stars dont mean a thing), I have the tendency to tell it like it is. Im guessing that this is a taboo? Ive also noticed that the level of formality is very different, and I might appear crass or rude by not observing the same level of formality. For example, C.s mom might come by for lunch or to help with something. When parting, one of them might say thank you ever so much for helping

today, along with a few other pleasantries. The thanking part seems long, overdone and formal to me, especially for a family member. Ive experienced the same in a small interaction, say, at a small grocery store. C. might say thank you ever so much. In the US, there might be a bit of banter, and a have a good one, where Im from, but not a semi-formal thank-you. The wish of having a good evening, afternoon, etc. is something that I miss, actually, and the colloquial take it easy, or take care. In VA, sometimes take it easy darlin. C. also gets upset if I dont use please or thank you all the time. Once, in a moment of total informality I said, Gimme your camera, trying to catch a quick shot before it was gone. C. was offended. While I appreciate C.s politeness, it would just never be natural for me to say May I please use your camera? to my partner or spouse. I might say Can I have the camera? Its colloquial, relaxed language, but in C.s family it seems that formality always remains. What about restaurants? Im gluten-intolerant, and the other night I asked if I could have something without the bread, and the server seemed vexed. From what Ive read, this makes Americans look demanding. Obviously one should be reasonable, and all I did was ask if it was possible and when the server said no, that was fine. The knife and fork thing seems to be a big one. Americans often eat with just a fork, and may cut some meat with the edge of the fork, which I think is seen as sort of crude here. Here one is supposed to push food onto the fork with the knife and then take a bite with the left hand, off the fork. Too old a dog for such new tricks?

Customer service. Its different here, but Im not sure how, exactly. While trying to navigate the teacher qualification nightmare, Ive had brush-offs by a number of people, but they were polite about it. Truth be told, I would much rather someone be a jerk, but give me the information I wanted, without the obligation for a ten minute long thank-you. Sometimes niceties are enjoyable, but sometimes you just want to ask a question and get an answer. One place that has impressed me is Tesco, in that once I asked if there were any carts inside, as I ran out of hand and arm room, and the clerk went and GOT me one. Holy schnikeythat was nice.

And then theres eating. Talking while eating (not with ones mouth open, of course, but just in general)I wonder about this one sometimes, as C.s family is notably silent while eating. If I say anything other than that something is tasty, I feel like Im doing something wrong. To me its very awkward to eat in silencethat indicates tension, that somethings wrong. Not eating dessertis this terribly unpolite or just another family thing? If one doesnt want dessert should one prepare an effusive apology? The weather. Ive read that its ok for Brits to complain about it, but that if foreigners do, its annoying. True? Thanks in advance for any contribution to a chat about figuring out the British. Source:
http://brightpurplerainboots.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/british-culture-social-taboos/

Hot on the web


Social Taboos and Common Customs in China
Every culture has its own rules on what is acceptable and what is not. This list will detail these customs in China. There is nothing better than experiencing a culture first hand - that doesn't, however, mean that one should not take the time to read and learn about what is expected before going. This will prevent embarrassing situations, and help natives feel more comfortable around you, so that you can learn the intricacies of the culture. In addition, taking the time to read about what is expected will help you avoid getting in trouble or seriously offending someone.

Addressing Peers When addressing someone for any reason, it is expected that you address them with their official title. If they hold a position, such as 'General', then refer to them as that. If they do not, however, or if you are unaware of their position, you should refer to them as Mr./Mrs./Ms plus their last name. Don't call them by their first name unless invited to do so. How to Act Every culture has its rules on how you are to act, and China is no different. In China, to greet someone, you nod your head, or you bow slightly. Handshakes are also common, but you should wait for your Chinese partner to initiate the motion.

Don't Touch This is common in many Asian countries, and is the direct opposite of those found in Western society. Chinese people do not enjoy being touched by strangers. Don't touch someone unless you absolutely have to. Respect the Elders As a Confucian rules, the elders are to be respected in every situation by those who are younger. You should always acknowledge the elder in a group first, and show the most respect to that person. Keep Your Hands out of Your Mouth Putting your hands in your mouth is considered to be vulgar in Chinese culture, and should not be done. This includes biting your nails Backpacking is a revolving, ever-changing experience, where you can quickly learn the difference between your own culture and others. Traveling through a country will allow you to learn a new set of rules, customs, and social expectations that you have never experienced before. Taking the time to be humble and quiet and observe the actions of others is a good way to start learning. When backpacking through China, you will discover a society that is vastly different from your own. The social rules and customs, the cultural obligations, and the violations are all different and unique. Nothing is the same, and you will need to learn an entirely new way of living just to fit in. There is nothing better than experiencing a culture first hand - that doesn't, however, mean that one should not take the time to read and learn about what is expected before going. This will prevent embarrassing situations, and help natives feel more comfortable around you, so that you can learn the intricacies of the culture. In addition, taking the time to read about what is expected will help you avoid getting in trouble or seriously offending someone. Don't show your Italian Side Italians love to motion with their hands. It makes conversations lively a fun, and helps illustrate a point. In China, this is very uncommon. Chinese people don't move their hands around in motions when speaking, and they will become annoyed quickly if you do. a position of authority, whether that be government or not. Don't touch someone unless you absolutely have to.

Respect the Elders As a Confucian rules, the elders are to be respected in every situation by those who are younger. You should always acknowledge the elder in a group first, and show the most respect to that person. It's okay.... ...to spit in public and blow your nose. Certain Asian cultures find this unacceptable. The Chinese do not. Dress Western If you are from the West, the odds are whatever clothes you have will be acceptable in China. The Chinese emulate Western clothing styles often, especially in urban cities, such as Beijing. As a standard, it is better to dress more on the conservative side. Women more often than not wear dresses, though it is perfectly okay to wear pants. Source: http://voices.yahoo.com/social-taboos-common-customs-china-information1476707.html?cat=16 http://traditions.cultural-china.com/en/14Traditions9117.html http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2011-02/25/content_12079190.htm

Philippines - Filipino Taboos and Customs


Filipinos are friendly, warm and open towards foreigners. They are known the world over for their hospitality. If you happen to live with a Filipino family, they will go out of their way, even borrow money for additional comforts, just to make you feel at home. Filipino moral values are governed by complex ideas of hiya (fear of losing face), pakikisama (social sharing) and bahala na (fatalism). Thus, one should never challenge any Filipino's manhood for that will certainly provoke a fistfight. Neither should one put to shame any member of the family for a brother'shame is a taint to the family honor; and a Filipino will even do violent means to save his face. On the other hand, Filipinos will walk a mile for a person in need in the spirit of pakikisama. In the same breath, foreigners who have been taken into the inner sanctum of a family are also expected to share in the spirit of camaraderie. Filipinos are also known to be fatalistic primarily due to their religious upbringing. Their motto is: if in doubt, do ... and pray to God as you do. Source:
http://asiangf.net/y/philippines/40050/index.htm