Cultural Secrets that I Know

This is fascinating and, in some cases, I’ve experienced them personally.

I think I’d add a few with a Canadian/American spin such as:

  • American’s feel the question “How much to you make there?” naturally follows “Where do you work?” which tends to horrify Canadians.  I’ve got friends who’ve been in my life to over 20yrs and I have no idea what they make – and wouldn’t dream of asking.  (I found this one when an American from Alabama emigrated to our community.  At a little “welcome” party we had for him at the office, in an effort to start putting names with faces, he went person to person asking what they did for the company and, at first, asking how much that paid!  Someone quickly diverted him and explained.  We chatted later and he was kind of thrown as it was quite common where he’d lived.)
  • When two Canadians bump into each other on the street, they will both say “Sorry.”  Neither is attempting to assume blame as they agreeing “Isn’t is awful that that happened.”  I’m told American’s find this very confusing as, to them, “Sorry” indicates assumed blame.
  • Briefly holding a door so the person behind can catch it, when entering a building for example,  yields a brief “thanks” in English Canada.  In French Canada, this sort of verbal thanks is very rare – in either language – but a glance and nod of thanks is common.

you don't have to read v2.0

Here are some cultural secrets that I know.  Enjoy.

  • African Americans who you don’t even know are happy to greet you on the street in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with a “good morning” or a “hello;” Often, but not always, the greeting continues through “how are you doing today?” and “fine thanks, yourself?” A friend pointed it out to me, so then I started doing it. It was wonderful. It worked for me in Washington DC, as well, but not in Madison, Wisconsin. It works only sometimes in Seattle. A friend of mine who lives in Harlem took of a picture of a homemade sign posted on a… mail box?… saying “Black people should greet each other!”
  • The asian kids sit together in the lunch room because they like each other. Also, they know that nobody at the table will “yuck” their food out loud. I grew up with the value…

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About jmcanuck

I like long walks on short piers and teaching Tai Chi to badgers. In my spare time, I make by own band-aids. I'm proudly Canadian as long as no one minds.
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5 Responses to Cultural Secrets that I Know

  1. jp 吉平 says:

    jmcanuck, thanks for reblogging, you’ve brought thousands of people to my little blog!

  2. jp 吉平 says:

    apparently, after your re-blog, it got picked up on metafilter. some people were mad at me for making huge generalizations; I had meant it mostly to be some cultural tendencies that I had observed. other people were annoyed that when I used “Asian” I was presuming to speak for the whole continent of Asia.

    I appreciate your observations about Canadian and American behavior. I personally am also horrified by questions about salary, and I will confirm that Americans tend to equate “sorry” with fault. Of course, these are just some observations of cultural tendencies… not meant to be broad and reckless generalizations! Thanks again for reading!

  3. Urspo says:

    Yanks see ‘sorry’ = “blame’ which means few people ever say they are sorry lest it opens up to blame – and lawsuits.

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