Saturday, November 11, 2006

Proper German Etiquette According to Wikipedia

Thanks to M for pointing me to this article from Wikipedia. Some of these I've already heard or experienced, I'll highlight in red ones which have proven true thus far. Also, the links to M's blog and Ihab's blog are both active as of this morning. Enjoy. Germany A rather comprehensive introduction on what is considered good manners in Germany can be found in the "Knigge". The original Knigge is a book on manners by Adolf Freiherr Knigge written in the 18th century. Nowadays, there are a bunch of books with a similar title, adapted to newer times. Much of what is described in the Knigge doesn't necessarily apply to everyone, especially when dealing with younger people, the rules are far more relaxed. Opening a door that someone has closed for privacy without knocking or otherwise seeking permission is considered rude and an invasion of privacy. [63] In German business dealings, scooting your chair closer to the host is considered an insult. [64] Germans tend to be more reserved than e.g. Americans. They value their privacy more and use phrases like "thank you" etc. more sparingly. They do not hug guests by default or ask everybody "How do you do?". To the unaccustomed ear the German language perhaps sounds "harsh" (this also applies to Nordic languages). This does not mean, however, that they are in fact less friendly. [citation needed] As is the case in many languages featuring a T-V distinction, addressing someone with the familiar second person pronoun (du) when they should be addressed with the formal form (Sie). [65] Placing a phone call to somebody after 10 p.m. (22:00), unless by previous appointment or calling a friend. I'd like to amend this toi 8pm if the person has a small child. Furthermore, do not call anyone who you think might be interested in watching the news on television between approximately 8 p.m. and 8.15 p.m (20:00 - 20:15), as the prime time daily news are broadcast at that time. [citation needed] The tapping of one's index finger on the side of their head, or the waving of one's hand up and down in front of their face (palm of the hand towards the face) are both considered offensive gestures. Both of these gestures, along with the phrase, Sie haben einen Vogel (lit.: You have a bird), insinuate that the other person is crazy or deranged. The same applies to pointing one's index finger to one's temple, and imitating a screwing motion. The corresponding expression in german is eine Schraube locker haben (lit.: to have a loose screw). In some cases, especially regarding police officers or judges, the offense may be fined. The severity of this offense has lessened to some extent in the last decades. Giving s.o. the finger is a major offense. [citation needed] Displaying a swastika and other Nazi symbols as well as certain Nazi-gestures is illegal in Germany and considered extremely rude and will be fined. It can be considered rude to mention or refer to Nazi Germany during normal conversation, unless the topic was started/offered by a German. Even for Germans, this topic is often considered thin ice. Although most Germans do not feel responsible for what happened several generations ago, they feel that it is important to show a sensitive and mature approach to their past. So, before taking part in discussions about fascism and the Third Reich in Germany, make sure that your knowledge of the historic past is sufficient. When eating, starting to eat before the hostess or eldest lady on table is considered rude. This also counts for taking the last bit of a dish without asking if any other person would like to have some, or taking a second portion while other people have not finished their first yet. [citation needed] Offering yellow roses to a married woman, since yellow roses are considered as a symbol for adultery by some people.[citation needed] Asking an unfamiliar woman for her age (especially if she appears older than yourself) or weight. [citation needed] In Germany, as well as in Austria, it is impolite to begin eating before others have been served. Also it is impolite to begin eating without wishing everybody Guten Appetit (lit.: good appetite) first. [citation needed] During a meal, crossing your cutlery on the plate means that you are taking a break, but have not finished eating. If you are finished, place you knife and fork parallelly on the plate. [citation needed] If you served yourself, or had the opportunity to tell the serving person to stop serving you (so, almost always except in a restaurant), it is considered rude to not finish your plate. Kids are sometimes told that not finishing your plate causes bad weather the next day. [citation needed] Especially in the north of Germany, using a candle to light a cigarette is said to kill a fisherman. The reason for this is that in former times fishermen earned their living during wintertime by producing matches. Putting your glass down on the table after clinking glasses (and before drinking) is considered rude in some parts of Germany. It is said to "invalidate" the Prost (cheers). When clinking glasses you are supposed to look into the person's eyes who you are toasting. Not doing so results in seven years of bad luck (or, more specifically, bad sex). Not closing your umbrella before stepping inside any building, even if there is more than enough room for it open. (It is considered bad luck to open an umbrella indoors) [citation needed] It is considered impolite to not cover your mouth and nose when sneezing, coughing or yawning. [citation needed] Letting one or both hands rest under the table or on your lap during eating is considered rude. [citation needed] Addressing someone by their first name without mutual agreement is considered overly familiar. Never touch someone who is not an intimate or very close friend. It is considered very rude. [citation needed] When eating, use a knife and fork. Normally the fork is held in the left hand throughout the meal, but the North American custom of holding a fork in the right hand and switching will be overlooked provided a knife is held at all times. The North American custom of eating with just a fork is considered bad table manners. [citation needed] It is good manners to greet strangers when entering an elevator, a waiting room, and when sharing tables, and to say goodbye. It is not customary to greet strangers on the street. [citation needed] It is not common in Germany to talk about someone's income or financial situation. [citation needed] People normally don't tell their political preference or even their voting decision. Asking for this is considered very nosy and intrusive. [citation needed] Smokers and non-smokers are to mutually respect each other. Smoking in non-smoking areas is considered to be very rude. In certain environments (e.g. restaurants) smokers are expected to ask people in close proximity if smoking is allowed for before lighting a cigarette. Objections should be adhered to. However, non-smokers are likely to consent if asked politely. In other environments (e.g. clubs and pubs) and outdoors (e.g. bus stops) smoking is generally tolerated and it may be considered gauche to make a fuss or object to someone smoking. Simply remove yourself quietly or, if this is not possible, address the smoker as politely as possible when asking him to be more considerate of yourself. At work strict non-smoking regulations may apply and you should always ask in office environments before lighting a cigarette. In the workplace, you are expected to bring cake or buy lunch for colleagues when it is your birthday, or when you are leaving the company. [citation needed] I'd like to add that in an informal setting this translates to throwing a birthday party for your friends. the birthday person buys the food and drinks for the guests and guests bring presents. Unthoughtful driving on the Autobahn is regarded as rude. Watch your mirrors! On the Autobahn you must use the outmost right lane unless you are passing by slower cars or trucks. Overhauling to the right is not allowed on the highway and therefore very dangerous as you might not be taken notice of while trying to. You are obliged to give way to faster cars, irrespective of speed limits. Jamming left lanes can be prosecuted as felony under certain conditions and is likely to be responded to with aggressive maneuvers by other drivers. [citation needed] Tip at the restaurant is typically 5-10% of the bill, depending on the customer's satisfaction with the service. Not leaving any tip is considered rude if the service was satisfactory, but not uncommon if the service was bad. Tipping is also customary for taxi drivers, barbers and hair stylists, for those who deliver food to your home or office, for casual handymen (neighbor teens who cut the lawn, and the like) and some others. [citation needed] Public display of affection, such as holding hands or kissing in public places and public events, is commonly accepted and widely spread, but may be considered inappropriate in certain surroundings (workplace, church, high class restaurants, etc.)


Anonymous said...

My favorite faux pas... lighting a cigarette with a candle kills a fisherman!!

Walzi said...

Well, actually, nobody really believes that, of course. It's more like a running gag these days (and most people haven't even heard about it). You CAN kill a fisherman with a candle, though - if you set him on fire with it. But be warned, fishermen use to wear wet rubber clothes and are quite hard to burn.