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  #81  
Old 02 May 2008, 06:48 AM
moonfall moonfall is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Esprise Me View Post
Most people could do better than most people do.

Tonight I waited on a table of French people. They spoke no English--literally none; I had to wrack my brain to remember my one semester's worth of French in college, because an offer of "water" was met with a blank stare (and you should have seen me trying to convey the concept of "crab.") They didn't believe me when I tried to explain that one dish would not feed four people; stereotypes of American excess apparently prevailed over me actually showing them the dish in which their pasta would arrive (hence, several dishes had to be ordered and eaten in succession.) They pointed to everything with their middle fingers. They also thanked me profusely for the service but left me two bucks on a $120 tab. So, with tipout, I actually paid four dollars for the privilege of catering to their ignorance. I don't mean to pick on the French; I see this sort of thing every day, from people of every nationality. (I've seen my fellow Americans behave egregiously overseas, too, in case anyone feels the need to point that out to me.) I'm just saying an awful lot of people really need to try harder.
Edit: Spanked by Latiam.

I have read about Japanese "toilet slippers" which you wear into the bathroom and ONLY the bathroom. As far as shoes go, I usually take them off when I come inside. I don't like wearing shoes (especially close-toed shoes with socks) in the house, because it gets pretty hot here.

Last edited by moonfall; 02 May 2008 at 06:55 AM.
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  #82  
Old 02 May 2008, 07:22 AM
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ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Johnny Slick View Post
It's palm in, a little thingie that made a certain Bush Sr. incident in front of a crowd in Australia into the Greatest Foreign Policy Gaffe ever, and this by a guy who once puked into the Japanese PM's lap. IIRC from watching the tape he was giving the V-for-victory sign while riding in a motorcade and then for whatever reason he just decided to flip the V around for a second. aWesome.
I wonder why accounts of this alleged event vary so greatly. Does anyone know of a contemporary account?
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  #83  
Old 02 May 2008, 07:42 AM
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ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
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This biography claims Bush Sr made the traditional middle finger sign to a group of Australian protesters the day before so it seems he may have been giving them the Canberra protesters the sign on purpose. (It cites Washington Post, Jan 9, 1992.)

http://www.tarpley.net/bush25.htm
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  #84  
Old 02 May 2008, 04:17 PM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
 
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I still think this probably means it's a comparatively recent gesture. It's possible that Churchill was doing it deliberately knowing nobody would call him on it in those days, but seems more likely to me that the gesture wasn't so well known that the stigma had spread that far at the time.

(eta) Although that does seem to be the only picture of him doing it that way round.
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  #85  
Old 06 May 2008, 07:31 PM
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Joostik Joostik is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
A woman I worked with was born Dutch, and got a shock when in hospital someone brought her a bunch of red and white flowers. They are only for funerals.
Never heard of that one. Might have been a personal thing, certainly not a common Dutch tradition. White flowers are occasionally preferred for funerals, though.

Quote:
If you show up with flowers at Asian homes, you'll probably be welcomed warmly. Unless, of course, you take white chrysanthemums (they're used only for funerals) or you offer an odd number (considered unlucky in some cultures).
In Russia it's the other way around: always give an odd number, even numbers are for funerals.
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  #86  
Old 07 May 2008, 03:55 AM
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ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
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I've looked through the newspaper articles of the week Bush (Sr.) was said to have flashed the "flying V" to the Aussies in Canberra and it seems to me that the account has grown slightly in the years since. One Wikipedia entry reads:
Quote:
Sometimes foreigners visiting the countries mentioned above use the "two-fingered salute" without knowing it is offensive to the natives, for example when ordering two beers in a noisy pub, or in the case of the United States president George H. W. Bush, who while touring Australia in 1992, attempted to give a "peace sign" to a group of farmers in Canberra — who were protesting about U.S. farm subsidies — and instead gave the insulting V sign.
The "ironic" part of the story was that he had claimed that he knew every hand gesture on the street and hadn't learned a new one in Australia. About half of the news stories played the angle that the "expert" had made a mistake and about half suggested that he had done it on purpose (including some quotes from people who had been with Bush when he did it). I couldn't confirm any of the following claims (found on various Internet sources) from any contemporary news account: 1) The gesture was an embarrassment for Bush. 2) Bush later apologized. (As far as I can tell, the story never made the front page in any major paper and pretty much died within a a day or two.) 3) Bush had made the middle finger gesture to protesters earlier. 4) The "flying V" was returned by angry protesters. (The last one does seem likely since in all probability the comment about "knowing every hand gesture" was in response to earlier protesters. That would also lend support to the idea that Bush meant to return the insult.) The claim that Bush mistakenly made the gesture when trying to sign "peace" is, at best, unconfirmed. It seems that most eyewitnesses claimed he did it on purpose.
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  #87  
Old 10 May 2008, 09:14 PM
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Silkenray Silkenray is offline
 
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I don't like wearing shoes indoors, so when I go into someone's house I ask if it's ok for me to take my shoes off.
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  #88  
Old 14 May 2008, 12:47 AM
Tahanala
 
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It seems the French are well-known for their misbehaviour. As far as I'm aware of, each and every travel-to-the-US guide states the tip thing, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn they decided to disregard it because they thought they could get away with it as "foreigners". After all, everyone knows American are stupid. The middle-finger means "****" here too, and you'd get a weird look if you used it for pointing at something.

Incidentally, tipping is included in the bill here (15%, I think), but usually one still leaves some tip to show appreciation.

As for flowers, the custom is to offer them in uneven numbers. I don't know if even numbers are for funeral, though. Since 13 is considered unlucky, I guess there are only 11 in a "dozen" roses. On the other hand, some things sold in batches are "13-per-dozen" so maybe people overcome the "bad luck" connotation on the prospect of getting one free vegetable.
(I think I should have some flowers offered to me... for research's sake, of course)

Chrysanthemums are only for funerals, I once read it originated after WWI, because there was a huge amount of graves to be flowered after the end of the war and chrysanthemums happened to be the only flowers available at that time of the year. Recently, cyclamen have been used a lot for all-saint's-day, but the connotation of chrysanthemums for death still stands. This is a shame, since I love the flower and it's smell; I usually raid flower sellers on Nov.2 for their unsold potted plants and get them at bargain price to put all over my place for one month.

Regarding shoes, there is no custom of taking them off inside the house, though a fair number of households prefer doing so.

I have been told that the number 4 is unlucky in Japan because it is an homonym of "death". I would be highly interested in reading more about writing names in red over there, because I know there is a meaning for it when Kabuki actors do so, but I never got to know exactly why.
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  #89  
Old 26 July 2008, 08:37 PM
mediadave
 
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But the reason why we remove our shoes in other people's homes now, while the Brittish for example still don't
I don't think that's a standard 'rule' in Britain. My (Scottish) parent's house was and is a no shoes house, my friend, a twenty something english girl has a no shoes house, and while I and my flatmates wear shoes in the house, that's because its a kinda grotty rented flat. When I get a proper nice house of my own, it'll probably be a no shoes house.
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