Have you ever experienced that awkward moment when you go in for a kiss when the other person goes in for a handshake and you end up with a punch in the gut? Here is our guide to greetings around the world so you don’t end up in that awkward situation:
The UK/North America
- If you haven’t met the person before then it’s best to go for a simple handshake.
- If you’re attempting to look stylish, or you’re at an impressive event, then you can kiss them on both cheeks.
- If you are meeting a friend then a friendly hug or a kiss on each cheek is allowed.
- The bow is the traditional Korean greeting
- When men are meeting someone they know they shake hands, however this does not happen between different genders.
- Korean women will not shake hands with Western men.
- Western women, however, may offer their hand to a Korean man.
- When meeting a girl you can kiss them, one on each cheek.
- Men stick to handshakes.
- The handshake is very important, you shake everyone’s hand on arrival and again when you are leaving
- When meeting up with a friend it is normal to kiss three times on alternate cheeks.
- It is normal to kiss everyone of the cheek, just once and always the right cheek
- In Thailand you greet someone with the ‘Wai’, this is when you press your palms together in a prayer pose, and bow your forehead to touch your fingertips. The higher your hands, the more respect you have for the other person.
- A typical greeting is when you place your palms together in the prayer position and bow slightly, and say ‘Namaste’.
- However, when Indian people meet a Westerner they will shake their hand.
- You no longer have to do the cupped-hand bow; it is now acceptable to do a handshake. If you are in a formal situation, then out of respect you should lower your head.
- When they are meeting someone they rub their noses together.
- It is very polite to stick your tongue out at someone; it shows you have no evil thoughts.
Microsoft have just unveiled the latest version of their Skype Translator, which will enable us to chat with people all over the world even if we don’t speak their language. This story ran in the Daily Mail here in the UK yesterday, under the rather depressing headline, ‘Don’t bother learning a foreign language! Skype will soon translate spoken foreign words in real time’.
I can definitely see that this innovation has its uses, particularly if you need to speak to a client or colleague in another country, and don’t have time to learn their language. And I’m in no way trying to undermine all the years of research that have gone into its development – it looks incredibly clever and impressive. But I think it’s unrealistic to believe that it’s going to make language learning redundant.
For one thing, I haven’t had a lot of faith in translation software since the time I needed to write an email to a colleague in Dutch. Since the only Dutch I know is ‘waar is de winkel?’ (‘where is the shop?’) and ‘de tweemansbob’ (‘two-man bobsleigh’), naturally I turned to Google Translate, copied and pasted the offered translation and sent the email, feeling pretty proud of myself. Until my colleague replied, telling me – in English – to never use Google Translate for Dutch again, because what I’d sent him made no sense at all. Hard to tell by email, of course, but I always picture him wiping away tears of laughter as he wrote his reply.
This was a few years ago, and I realise things have come on a bit since then. But these days if I have to use an online translation tool, I’ll always copy the text back in and check it makes sense in English before I hit send. And even then I’m never completely convinced I haven’t made some horrible mistake. As with any translator, if you don’t know the language at all, you have to put complete faith in the intermediary to correctly translate what you’ve said. With people, you can generally tell if they know what they’re talking about. With computers, it’s not so easy – especially given that this particular innovation also relies on speech recognition technology to even decide what needs translating in the first place.
I’m no expert but I’d assume most people with a need for the Skype Translator will be those needing it for business calls, and in that case you definitely need to know your translator is 100% reliable, or who knows what you could end up agreeing to? Presumably those who call friends or family through Skype will already know at least a little of the other person’s language – unless they’re calling their in-laws, in which case it’s possibly even more important to avoid embarrassing translation mistakes.
Secondly, even if I were completely confident that the translator was accurate, I’m not sure I’d want to use it. The brilliant thing about video call software like Skype is that it allows you to talk face-to-face with someone on the other side of the world, where before they would have been a disembodied voice on the phone or, even more impersonal, a written letter or email. Microsoft describes the translator as ‘human to human interaction’ but it’s not really – it’s ‘human to computer to human’, and what you hear is not your friend or colleague but a computer-generated voice giving you the translation of what they’re saying.
Personally, I’d rather do a bit of preparation, then fumble my way through a conversation, probably in a mix of languages and littered with mistakes, than have to sit and wait for a program to decide what it thinks I said and pass it on. Not only that, but making the effort to learn at least a little of the other person’s language shows respect for them and their culture. It’s well known that speakers of other languages would much rather you try, and get it wrong, than sit back and let a computer do all the work.
Finally, as we all know, there are no end of benefits to learning a language, far beyond making it through one Skype call. We’ve covered all these benefits elsewhere, so I won’t go into them all again. And in fairness, I don’t think Microsoft are trying to replace language learning. But I can’t agree with the Daily Mail‘s headline – just because a machine exists that can help us out in a tight spot, it doesn’t mean we should never make the effort to learn a language again. Language learning is as important as it’s ever been, if only to avoid an embarrassing situation like this, when we’re forced to leave the computer behind…
(Apologies in advance to any Italian speakers!)
Today we have a post by guest blogger Jeff Peters on the importance of the English language in the business world.
Globalization is a dominant feature of post-modern industrial and developing societies and is being led by multi-national corporations. Whether it is high tech companies such as Apple, automobile manufacturers like General Motors, or even much smaller firms that specialize in one-off items manufactured throughout the Far and Near East, business has managed to overcome trade and regulatory boundaries in order to sell wares through free markets. Communication is paramount; imagine the difficulties if no efforts were made to establish a cohesive way by which businesses communicated. This is perhaps the over-riding reason as to why English has been chosen to be the de facto language of the business world.
We may have Hollywood to thank for the predominance of the English language throughout much of the world today. Distribution of American movies, television programs and music has allowed many peoples, even in so-called third world nations, to at least become somewhat familiar with spoken English. A large percentage of multinational corporations originated in the United States and continue to be headquartered in this country and their influence throughout the global community is quite predominant. Perhaps most important of all is the emergence of the Internet, where the English language predominates and is evidenced by the fact that many foreign language websites provide the means for translation into English.
English as the Model of Efficiency
While English may not be easy to learn, it has been adopted by foreign companies as the most effective means of gaining access to global commerce and trade. This is reflected in the fact that worldwide, close to two billion people are currently learning English. According to language experts at SolidEssay.com, which is a college paper writing service, having effective English language skills will not only allow for access to commerce and trade, it also provides an efficient way by which business is conducted. Cultural differences aside, the predominance of English has allowed for an efficient means to conduct business throughout the world, and has also provided an effective tool used to deal with political differences, also viewed as barriers to trade.
Why is this Important to Individuals?
With the rise of English as the language of choice throughout the global business community it is important for non-English speakers to understand that without the necessary language skills they run the risk of being left behind. Each must adapt their skills to business needs and to be a cog in this dynamic world it is important to learn the lingo. Hence, learning English is primary to individual success and should be given to anyone wishing to gain access to the corporate world of today. As the spread of English continues, learning the language appears to be one of the most productive means to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world.
Remember with Talk Business, you can learn English from over 70 other languages.