Social customs in your country

Social customs in your country (Language of generalisation)

 

Below are some things that books like Culture Shock and Lonely Planet tend to over-generalise about. Try to agree what completely accurate sentence you would write for a foreigner (e.g. someone coming to Korea on a business trip) about one of the topics below, then move onto another. Start with the easiest topics first.

 

  1. Blowing your nose in public
  2. Constant sniffing to avoiding having to blow your nose
  3. Spitting in the street
  4. Eating your rice with chopsticks
  5. Writing someone’s name with red ink
  6. Leaving your chopsticks stuck in your rice
  7. Filling your own glass (e.g. pouring beer for yourself)
  8. Passing things with your left hand
  9. Touching people on the head

10. Wearing shoes indoors

11. Kissing in public

12. Eating with your hands

13. Holding hands or walking arm in arm with your boyfriend/ girlfriend/ same sex friend

14. Tipping

15. Gesturing with your chopsticks

16. Jewellery for men

17. Leaving food at the end of the meal

18. Giving someone four flowers

19. Opening a gift in front of the person who gave it to you

20. Ripping open presents

21. Taking off your jacket in a business meeting

22. Eating while you are walking

23. Picking your bowl up while you are eating

24. Slurping while you are eating

25. Drinking directly from a soup bowl

 Useful language for generalising(Only) older people/ young people/ children/ teenagers/ conservative people/ traditional people/ rural people/ people from small towns/ the elite/ posh people/ women/ the religious…

The vast majority of people/ almost everyone…

Quite a lot of people…

Only a minority of people/ (Very) few people…

People usually/ generally/ almost always…

People rarely/ seldom/ hardly ever/ almost never…

These days/ In the modern world, people…

Traditionally/ A generation ago/ Until…, people…

People tend to/ make a habit of/ try to…

… don’t care one way or the other/ don’t have any strong feelings on this

… disapprove of/ hate/ object to/ are offended by…

… think it is rude (= impolite = bad manners)/ strange/ offensive/ unacceptable/ ill-bred/ disgusting (= revolting)/ disrespectful/ unhygienic  to…

… are superstitious about…/ think… is bad luck/ … have religious reasons for…

… don’t/ avoid…

…are shocked/ surprised/ offended (by…)

… expect you to…

… are impressed/ flattered if you…

… tend to/ make a habit of/ try to…

… disagree about…

It’s (completely) taboo (for … people/ in … situations), because…

It’s (very/ extremely) important to…

It is (very/ perfectly) normal/ (very) common to…

It is acceptable/ polite to… (when/ as long as…)

 

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PDF version for easy printing: SocialCustomsSpeaking

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