The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138129 Message #3161204
Posted By: GUEST,Grishka
27-May-11 - 07:09 AM
Thread Name: BS: Culture clash, German-US/Brit
Subject: RE: BS: Culture clash, German-US/Brit
From my detailed knowledge of both countries, I declare that article 90% bulls**t.
Every regional, cultural, and sociological group has its own subtle rules of politeness and social coherence. In British English, "please" is generally used more frequently than in many other languages, where the analogon has more syllables.
Smalltalk exists in all cultures I know, and certainly in Germany. The example from the childrens' book makes perfect sense in German and French. The verbal and nonverbal signals for how detailed a medical record you wish are of course different for every group, and sometimes misunderstood even by insiders. As Michael writes, it takes years to adopt to another culture (US and UK differ from each other enough, as we all know). Business people everywhere frown at extensive smalltalk as a waste of expensive time.
Similar observations apply to compliments and implicit criticism - the percieved borders to flattery, hypocricy, or sarcasm strongly depend on the context, but they exist universally. A compliment need not be literally honest in Germany, but it must be adequate - as in Britain and elsewhere. Translations are often quite misleading in the realm of social behaviour.
Apart from that, many people are less inclined to be fair and polite outside their usual social context. Foreign tourists have a bad reputation worldwide.