Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

How To Handle Foreigners

And, of course, don't mention the warWith the 2012 London Olympics drawing ever closer, Britain's national tourism agency wants to make sure that the tradespeople of Knifecrime Island show their least stabby faces to international visitors. To that end, VistiBritain has provided a helpful list of foreign characteristics aimed at avoiding offense. They're all pretty great, but if I had to pick just five it would be these.

• "A smiling Japanese person is not necessarily happy."

• "Be careful how you pour wine for an Argentinian."

• "When meeting Mexicans it is best not to discuss poverty, illegal aliens, earthquakes or their 1845-6 war with America."

• "Despite stereotypes, Poles are not large consumers of alcohol and excessive drinking is frowned upon."

• "Canadians may take offence if labeled American. Some Canadians get so annoyed about being mistaken for US citizens they identify themselves by wearing a maple leaf as pin badge or as a symbol on their clothing."

You will, of course, have your own favorites. A wide variety of obscene gestures are also identified, so you might want to clip and save this one.

92 Comments / Post A Comment

flossy (#1,402)

"When meeting Britons it is best not to discuss dentistry, knife crime, volcano-related flight delays, or their 1775-1783 and 1812 wars with America."

David (#192)

Nor mention to any Briton the granting of independence to Rhodesia as Zimbabwe in 1980, Belize in 1981, not of the Canadian government severing its last legal link with Britain in 1982, and the equivalent for Australia and New Zealand in 1986, nor mention end of the 99 year lease for Hong Kong, which occurred in 1997.

Do mention anything related to custard, cream pies, and crumpets.

Tuna Surprise (#573)

The Mexian/American War is still a sore subject? I guess that makes me an asshole for telling Mexcians every chance I get that President James K. Polk was the best American president ever. Manifest Destiny ftw!

Art Yucko (#1,321)

make fun of my dirty sombrero and I'll stab you with this wicked cactus spine.

kneetoe (#1,881)

Polk routinely appears toward the top of the list of best American presidents, as rated by historians. The best theory I've heard on this is that he kept VERY DETAILED diaries about why he did what he did, which makes historians very happy.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

-whatever makes old gabachos with pipes and sweaters happy!-

deepomega (#1,720)

More like ManiBEST Destiny!

Yeah there was this thing on Reason a while back about historians would never like a libertarian president, because a libertarian president wouldn't DO anything. Seemed a bit self-serving, but what do I know.

Young Hickory, Napoleon of the Stump.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

@kneetoe – all it takes is a listen of They Might Be Giant's song "James K. Polk" to know of Polk's greatness.

In four short years he met his every goal
He seized the whole southwest from Mexico
Made sure the tariffs fell
And made the English sell the Oregon territory
He built an independent treasury
Having done all this he sought no second term
But precious few have mourned the passing of
Mr James K. Polk, our eleventh president
Young Hickory, Napoleon of the Stump


petejayhawk (#1,249)


kneetoe (#1,881)

@pete: Well I'll be damned.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

@Krugmanic: Oh hi.

@pete: The director's cut…

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Argentinians get really pissed off if you don't pour the wine directly onto their head.Boludos!

scroll_lock (#4,122)

INTO their heads, Art. Tilt back their noggin like a South American Pez dispenser.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Junta Pez dispensers! Collect'em all!

You really "disappeared" that last bottle, didn't you? I'll be back with another faster than you can say "Islas Malvinas."

scroll_lock (#4,122)

But we have the green light on asking Britons why their TV is so horrible, right?

kneetoe (#1,881)

London Lee can affirm that they only have one station.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

And the one station is a test pattern.

LondonLee (#922)

Actually they have gazillions of channels now, all producing the crap that US networks copy. But (gather 'round, children) when I were a lad we only had three channels! We were poor but we were happy.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@Lee: Why do the insist on calling their TV hosts "presenters"? I feel as if I am to expect an expensive trinket or two and am bitterly disappointed when none is forthcoming.

deepomega (#1,720)

See, Lee, we may copy your crap, but you are the source of it. I'm calling the moral high ground on this.

carpetblogger (#306)

Have you watched british tv lately?? It's all reality shows and home redecorating. I agree with deepo.

LondonLee (#922)

Deepo, believe me I wasn't taking any high ground on that issue. Most British TV depresses the hell out of me these days.

scoll_lock, because they're presenting the program of course. Why do you call your news readers "anchors"?

theheckle (#621)

Well, it was only a hole in the ground covered by a piece of tarpaulin, but it was a house to us!

Don't forget about the car and supernatural shows.

Bettytron (#575)

While the British have some of the worst tv, they also have some of the best- everything Chris Morris has done, both Extras and The Office, and BBC News is definitely better than CNN. Even their trashy teen tv is better- Skins was a much more indulgent guilty pleasure than The OC, which it was presumably inspired by. How do they manage to get it so wrong and so right at the same time?

Mindpowered (#948)

"The Royal Family" kind of exemplifies this ability. It's same skill which allows Kings College Chapel and Milton Keynes to exist in the same country.

LondonLee (#922)

And 'Mad Men' and 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' – America has that skill too.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@Lee: we call them anchors because we'd like to throw them overboard and have them sink.

carpetblogger (#306)

"Better than CNN" is a very low bar and BBC just (barely) reaches it.

nicole (#2,443)

i have to say that i love top gear and the IT crowd…

scrooge (#2,697)

When I were a lad, we only had two channels. And they kept more or less the same hours as the pubs. And, yeah, you rented your TV because you couldn't afford to buy one.

scrooge (#2,697)

In the old days, the newscaster (presenter, whatever you want to call him/her) didn't try to be your best friend. I think they call it "dumbing down" (except of course in Britain before they started speaking American "dumb" used to mean "incapable of speech".

garge (#736)

"Do not be alarmed if the Salvadorians run their hands across your hips, or brush against your boobs, as they are a very amorous people." -a former restaurant manager of mine

TroutSavant (#1,990)

How to manhandle foreigners!

scroll_lock (#4,122)

@garge: "Do not be alarmed if groped Americans involuntarily lift their knee in a sharp upward motion into your Salvadorian jewels. They are a very defensive people with poor muscle control."

cherrispryte (#444)

But what if I enjoy the occasional amorous Salvadorian?

garge (#736)

@cherri: does he have DOMINATING BROWN EYES? Just keep your knee on hair-trigger demand!

"Avoid dicussing linguistic and political divisions within Belgium between Dutch and French speakers."
This is patently false, we love going on and on and on about this. The snapping fingers thing is true though, is that really not considered impolite in the rest of the world?

Slava (#216)

It is.. unless it's a "OH NO YOU DIDN'T!!!" double snap.
Which is considered awesome.

Last year I learned that, in France, Italians will snap their fingers impatiently at the waitstaff if their pizza slices are not brought out fast enough.

Is it okay to talk about keeping kids locked up in the basement for sex?

Apparently not.

BadUncle (#153)

It's considered a form of applause, by elderly poets. However, it must also be accompanied by whispered refrains of "Go, cat."

kneetoe (#1,881)

It looks to me like the safest thing to do if a Japanese person smiles is just to stab the motherfucker. Just to be safe.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

Do it politely.

kneetoe (#1,881)

Smile, then stab.

Slava (#216)

… Smab.

kneetoe (#1,881)

This just out from Japan's VisitBritain web page:

"Even if smiling, a British person with a knife will stab you, so take precautions."

Something something ninja something

Pop Socket (#187)

Plenty of Americans wear maple leafs as well so that terrorists will mistake them for Canadians.

Tuna Surprise (#573)

I do this and I don't feel guilty about it. Canada rode our coat tails for years.

Grant G Brown (#3,366)

In most parts of the world I don't mind being mistaken for an American, and I'm sure most of the world doesn't give a rat's ass. Just don't assume we're all fans of the Maple Leafs (who suuuuuuck).

Jeremiah Britt (#6,804)

"Do not be alarmed if South Africans announce that they were held up by robots. "

mishaps (#5,779)

This is true. My greatest regret about my trip to SA is that I didn't take a picture of the advisory painted on the road that read (as I recall) "ROBOTS AHEAD"

Also, the whole thumb-between-first-and-middle-fingers bit? I thought that was only a Russian thing! The more you know…

I thought it was Italian. But even not being ethnic I grew up knowing it was offensive.

And not a single one about Americans? Are they saying they're not afraid to offend us or we don't offend as easily as those other prissy cultures?

LondonLee (#922)

We don't give a fuck about offending Americans.

Still sore about losing the whole bloody continent, are you? ;')

LondonLee (#922)

And look what you've done to it! You're such children.

Mindpowered (#948)

No, Americans have trouble getting outside their own apartments,(Family Guy Re-runs you see) much less getting to other countries.

Your chance of merting any is close to nil.

Don't say anything about how peanut butter and "jelly" is an abomination.

nicole (#2,443)

@LondonLee. This is so true. I worked for an English man for years who insisted on us working with lots and lots of his English buddies (I've almost recovered from the trauma). One of the many times I was calling the UK for business, the receptionist very loosely put her hand over the phone and called out to the person I had asked to speak with, "It's an American on the phone! What shall I tell her?". I was amused and horrified. If I'd ever done the equivalent here, I probably would've been fired, at least thoroughly chastised. Kind of amazingly rude.

cherrispryte (#444)

The sad, scarred remnants of my liver would like to lodge serious protest against #4 on the grounds of complete and total inaccuracy.

As a resident of Chicago, I would like to agree with you.

I thought it was just us USA Americans that were a-holes to expect the rest of the world to be just like Kansas.

LolCait (#460)

In Ukrainian culture, garroting is considered a casual hello.

This is true.
We garrote with love.

(Kneecapping is considered an overture to fellatio.)

LolCait (#460)

Try not to say anything, positive or negative, about the size or stamina of a Croatian's automobile.

Smitros (#5,315)

Do not ask Chadians about their expulsion from the Axis of Guay.

Please explain how to pour wine backwards?

roboloki (#1,724)

party 'til you puke!

I assume they mean don't pour it from the glass into the bottle. Which I also find offensive.

Is this how British people drink wine. Does it come already in the glass and you have to use a funnel to pour it back into a communal bottle?

forrealz (#1,530)

yes, I am mystified! it says "pour wine backwards into the glass". this makes no sense!!! not a bit! someone please explain?

Ananke (#3,223)

After reading that I have a real urge to touch an Indian.

"Never pierce a Dutch person in the abdomen with your sharpened genitals. It is considered very rude."

Smitros (#5,315)

But the Danes are really into that.

Br. Seamus (#217)

I would never ask a Brazilian personal questions, that just seems like too many.

HiredGoons (#603)

Everyone hates the French; have a field day.

roboloki (#1,724)

off topic, but thanks for recommending "the next 100 years". i finally had a chance to read it saturday and found it to be quite insightful.

City_Dater (#2,500)

"Remember Arabs are not used to being told what to do."

kneetoe (#1,881)

"and it's high time they learned."

nicole (#2,443)

this one made me laugh too. who does like being told what to do?

Smitros (#5,315)

But England already has a whole series of books for this:

hman (#53)

I'd be kidding myself if I didn't admit this is way more useful than anything I learned to get a degree in International Affairs.

bronwyn (#3,351)

• Do not take offence if an Australian or a New Zealander makes a joke about ‘'Poms."
It is more of a friendly endearment than an intended insult.

Hmm. I think they forgot that "Pom" is often preceded by the words "bloody moaning". But just jokes guys! We're all friends right?

joeks (#5,805)

"When meeting Americans, it's best to avoid discussing which version of the sitcom 'The Office' is superior.

(The correct answer is the American version, seasons 1 through 4, but do not under any circumstances concede this ineluctable truth.)"

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