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NOTE: If you find this symbol in the text (*) that means it’s a tip for you to mention at your oral exam.
PEOPLE AND SOCIETY
When we’re talking to somebody, eating at the table or watching a movie, we are expected to behave by certain social rules. Some are logical and universal and some are unspoken. There are also unacceptable social schemes, which may vary depending on the country, e.g. the same gesture you use in Slovakia everyday may be offensive in Britain and vice versa. The root of all this behavior is the culture of the country.
Everyone knows at least some elements of etiquette. It is a set of social rules and traditions, which guide us and tell us how to behave in certain society. We are taught to greet and treat people with respect as well as how to behave at meetings, what is appropriate to wear for an event, how to eat at the table, how to act when we are in a different country, what is taboo etc.
It also describes the little things like to free the seat for the elder person in the bus or that the first one to go through the door is the one who is leaving the room/building and then enters the second person who wants to come in (Never stand right in the door, never! Either in or out but never stand still, trust me). And we should not forget the basics like saying the „magic“ words– thank you, sorry, please.
How to behave also depends on our environment. You won’t act so formally with family and you won’t use slang (street language) with your employer. Another topic is the way people dress. For example people in Muslim countries (and especially women) dress in certain way, which looks weird for most Europeans.
But our Slovakian traditions are sometimes wild too – for example during Easter festivities. For Italians or Turks it may seem like we like to torture Slovak girls with cold water once a year. It is simply part of our culture.
Japan – don’t give tips to taxi drivers, waiters and waitresses etc.
Turkey – don’t make the „OK“ sign (offensive)
India – don’t kiss in public
France – don’t talk about money
United Kingdom – don’t cut in line, don’t ask how much money people earn
ETIQUETTE RELATED TO FOOD
The most used etiquette category is associated with food. When somebody invites us for a visit, we should certainly bring something small for a host and of course we shouldn’t be late. Sadly, it is considered impolite to ask for more food, but if the host offers you some, feel free to eat more. When you come to visit somebody, you should be offered a beverage. You eat your soup quietly and use silverware, not hands (however in some corners of this world it is polite to eat with your hands).
UNACCEPTABLE SOCIAL BEHAVIOR
Usually it is our parents and teachers who teach us these social rules. It is important to know how to distinguish between correct and incorrect social behavior. It is the fact that kids imitate and behave like their parents, because they see this behavior every day and they think it should be like this. This is the reason why some people become criminals and break the law. This behavior is officially punished by fines, community work or prison – it depends on the seriousness of the crime e.g. killing, robberies, rape or kidnapping. Pick-pocketing, shop-lifting or stealing of any kind is not such a serious offence in Slovakia, but in different countries, there may be more serious method of punishment for these crimes.
In some countries, it is common for people to be divided into social groups. Brits are divided this way:
1. Upper class – judges, lawyers, company directors
2. Middle class – teachers, bank managers, doctors
3. The working class – miners, construction workers, waitresses etc.
1. What is the Etiquette?
2. How would you behave at dinner? Describe at least 3 etiquette rules.
3. Can you name some crimes and forms of punishment?
4. Did you understand everything? If not, do not hesitate to ask on our forums!
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