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Etiquette For London Olympics

Offend No One While Partying at the London Olympics

England wants to give foreigners a warm, unoffensive welcome when the world flocks to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. So Visit Britain, the country's national tourism agency, released some things to know about cultural taboos and characteristics.

They're all kind of amazing, in a hyperspecific way bordering on offensive itself, but some of my favorites are things you'd need to know for a night out.

  • Be careful how you pour wine for an Argentinian.
    The whole process involves a number of social taboos and unless you understand them you could insult someone.
  • Do not take offense if an Australian or a New Zealander makes a joke about ‘’Poms.’’ It is more of a friendly endearment than an intended insult.
  • Never imply Poles drink excessively.
  • When meeting Mexicans it is best not to discuss poverty, illegal aliens, earthquakes, or their 1845-6 war with America.
  • Don’t be offended by Argentinian humor, which may mildly attack your clothing or weight.
  • Avoid winking at someone from Hong Kong.
  • A smiling Japanese person is not necessarily happy.
  • Never call a Canadian an American. 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 a pin badge or as a symbol on their clothing.

Have a favorite of your own?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
Pistil Pistil 6 years
The website has PDFs with stats and info on every country. It's interesting to have that outside perspective on your country. I didn't realize Canadians were so behind other countries in mobile phone usage. I guess it's because we're so outdoorsy.
inlove23 inlove23 6 years
To Pinky Pink what on earth should we be called then?? United Staters?
skigurl skigurl 6 years
Can someone explain to me the Japanese thing, because I've recently noticed that Asian people constantly smile and giggle and I can't figure out why. The lady at my nail place giggled at me when I tried to make an appointment 2 weeks in advance. It was really weird. It reminded me of the time that the take-out lady laughed at Miranda for ordering a single take-out meal. I didn't realize this was a "thing" but the line of the post above doesn't exactly help in terms of just makes it more awkward.
amber512 amber512 6 years
That's what I was thinking. We're Americans because we come from the United States of America. I hadn't heard a lot of these before, they were really interesting!
cambrianoelle cambrianoelle 6 years
Pinky Pink, it's funny you put Chileans in there (regarding being called "American") because the only other times i've heard that same argument against calling ourselves "Americans" is from my chilean cousins. What I always say back to them is that we call ourselves "Americans" because it's the short-cut from "United States of American." We are not referring to our continent when we call ourselves American, if we were, then of course we'd be including the Canadians and Chileans and everyone else in North/South America... but unfortunately, we do not have a one-name country. It's easy for Chile to be Chileans, Canada to be Canadians. If people from the "United Mexican States" - which is what Mexico's proper name is, translated to English - can be called "Mexicans," then I have every right to call myself an "American" which is short for "United States of American." Maybe one day someone will come up with a one word name for us which won't send people thinking we're referring to a continent... Statesians? USian? USAin? anyone with me? :)
Sundaydrive Sundaydrive 6 years
I like the one about not being alarmed if a South African says he was held up by robots. That is not something I ever knew, and I would be so confused if I ever heard someone say that.
Sundaydrive Sundaydrive 6 years
Do people still talk about the war of 1845? And is that really something to get offended by? Is that like the Mexican's Vietnam?
totygoliguez totygoliguez 6 years
As a Colombian it really pisses me off when people ask me, " Are drugs legal in your country?" Or when people make stupid drug-related jokes.
jocupcake jocupcake 6 years
The one about the war of 1845 is my favorite. So random.
Studio16 Studio16 6 years
Quite helpful. The first time I was in France, I was 16 and stepped off a plane jet lagged. My hotel room wasn't ready so my friend and I had to wander around Paris for a few hours. Of course our hair was gross, so I said, "Girls can wear hats indoors, let's just leave them on!" when we settled into a cafe for lunch. When our waiter brought the food, he was like, "Ladies, for future reference, we take hats off indoors!" He was nice about it, but it was embarrassing. I hadn't realized, "Oh, maybe that only applies in the US!" This incident has turned me into an international etiquette nut. (Of course I've only ever been to France, so that's really all I'm nutty about.) Just be polite as possible when dealing with anyone. Smile. Say please and thank you, preferably in the language of the country you're in. Don't act entitled. Don't think you're better than anyone because you're American. It's the little things that count.
PiNkY-PiNk PiNkY-PiNk 6 years
this is mine: don't assume all hispanics are mexicans. There are 31(?) spanish speaking countries and mexico is only one of them. Central and south americans are specially annoyed by this. ps: I will forever be annoyed by the fact that we call ourselves americans. Although this is true, canadians and chileans are also americans because america is a continent, not a country.
Girl-Jen Girl-Jen 6 years
"When in a social situation with a South African do not place your thumb between your forefinger and your second finger – it is an obscene gesture." Hey, if you make that gesture and then wiggle the gesturing hand back and forth, it's the American Sign Language word for "potty."
Sasseefrass Sasseefrass 6 years
It's funny how harsh these seem when put in black and white. As a Canadian I can say that the tip about Canadians is right. While we may not be as outwardly patriotic as those from other countries, we still take pride in our citizenship. The only reason we get so defensive about being mistaken as Americans is because it happens so often, not because there's anything particularly awful about being from the US. I've been to New Zealand and noticed a similar dynamic there. The ones I met pretty much hate being mistaken for Aussies.
em1282 em1282 6 years
Good point, snarky. I work in an office with a ton of Brits and it's pretty good to learn what to *not* say since not all slang is the same to everyone...
snarkypants snarkypants 6 years
these are actually quite helpful. i work with many international clients, and respecting their culture is important. nothing like offending somebody and not knowing at the time it to put you in your place quickly.
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