Wikipedia’s List of International Faux Pas by jimmycanuck
November 12, 2006, 9:15 am
Filed under: links, lists

Over in the Smart Canucks forums, Boo Radley has posted a link to a really great find on wikipedia – a list of proper ettiquette and cultural anomolies in every major region of the world.

By far, the most interesting part for me was the list for Canada.  It’s amazing how many things you assume are hard and fast social rules around the world are really just localized to your area. 

A few highlights from the Canadian list;

  • – Canadians are extremely polite when it comes to mild physical faux pas such as stepping on feet or bumping into others. Often both parties will briefly apologise, including the person who was bumped. Use of the word “sorry” in this context is equivalent to “excuse me”; it should not be considered a submissive gesture.
  • – Failing to hold a door open for another person is seen as very impolite, especially when doing so would require no special effort.
  • – The common American custom of responding to a thank-you with “uh-huh” is very disconcerting for Canadians. In Canada, “uh-huh” is a colloquial way to respond to a yes or no question; in any other context it is a sarcastic response. For example, to use it in response to a thank-you implies disbelief, or that the person saying thanks is not sincere. For English-speaking Canadians, the only correct response to “thank you” is “you’re welcome”. [This can become annoying if you are an American server in a restaurant with Canadian customers. They will thank you for every water pour; every moment of attention you give them.] Although uttering “Uh-huh” is a regionally acceptable American substitute for “you’re welcome” this is considered very rude to Canadians.

The list contains just about every part of the world you can think of  – definitely a fun read for a Sunday morning.  I love how polite we Canadians are.  🙂


1 Comment so far
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I live in Philadelphia, which is apparently the world capital of rudeness…. 😉

That said, I’m a little puzzled by the Wikipedia entry’s suggestion that it’s a “common American custom” to respond to thanks with “uh huh.” I really don’t hear that often, and–when I occasionally do–it sounds rude. Unless this “uh huh” is an American regionalism I just haven’t run into, I think the Wikipedia entry may have gotten that wrong.

I do wish that holding the door open for others would catch on (return to?) the States. Each and every day on my morning commute, I’m dumbfounded at the number of people who don’t even appear to think about the person who’ll be passing through the door right behind them. I grew up in Oklahoma, where a failure to hold the door would be considered quite rude….

Comment by riversaredamp

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