It is a great help for the person who is learning a foreign language to know some customs and manners for the people who speaks it, because the language is very closely associated with them. I will tell you some common western manners.
Some Common Manners in the West
1. Meeting and Greeting People
The simplest thing to say is "Good morning," "Good afternoon'" or "good evening." This greeting is given to one whom you know only slightly, or to any one you are passing quickly. "How are you" is usually used when you are not in such a hurry. No answer is expected other than " Fine, thank you." "hello' is the commonest form of greeting between good friends.
2) When a Man Raises His Hat
If you are wearing a hat which can be taken bold of easily, it is customary to raise it slightly off your head when you greet a girl or a woman.
3) When to Shake Hands
It is customary to shake hands when you first meet someone. And usually friends shake hands when they meet after not having seen each other for some time. However it is not necessary to shake hands.
4) Use the person's Name
It is always good form to use the name of the person you are greeting. You might say, "Good Morning, Mr. Moncrieff" or " Hello, Franklin.," A person's surname should be used unless he is good friend or school-mate.
1) How to Introduce People
In introducing two people, the general rule is: Introduce other people to the person you wish to honor. The old are honored in the West as in China. Women have been honoured in the West since the days of knighthood.
2) Rising at Introduction
A man always rise for an introduction, except that it is sometimes all right for an elderly man to remain seated when a young man is introduced to him. The hostess always rises for an introduction.
3) Introducing Yourself
If you want to meet someone, it is better to ask a friend who know him to introduce you. But sometimes at a meeting or gathering it is all right to introduce yourself to a fellow-student, or to one of the same sex and position.India
1) You Must Reply to an Invitation
Foreign custom is much more strict than Chinese custom in the matter of replying to invitations. When you receive an invitation you should answer it immediately, saying definitely whether you are able to accept it or not.
2) Written or Verbal Reply
If the invitation is given by word of mouth, in conversation or at a chance meeting, you should answer at once whether you can come or not. If you cannot give an answer at that time, you may say, "May I let you know this evening?" Or some such words.
4. In the Home
1) The Right Time to Arrive
When invited to luncheon, dinner, or supper, it is very impolite to arrive late, as it is usually planned to have the meal at the exact hour given in the invitation.
2) In arrival
When you arrive, the hostess or some member of the family will probably meet you at the door and take your coat and hat. In the winter time you should dress more lightly than usually, as you may expect the rooms to be warmer than in most Chinese homes.
3) In a few minutes the hostess will ask her guests to come in to dinner. She may or may not ask each gentleman to take a lady in. If she does, the lady will take the gentleman's arm as they walk into the dinning room. If she does not, the ladies will go in first, followed by the gentlemen. The hostess will either point out their seats to the guests as they come in or have a place card at each place with the guests name on it.
4) How Long to Stay
After the meal is over it is not polite to leave for at least half an hour, lest you seem to have come only for the meal. An evening dinner invitation usually implies that you stay for the whole evening. The hostess often plans some after-dinner entertainment.
5) What to Say on Leaving
When leaving any kind of a party, a guest always expresses his appreciation to the hostess. Some such words as these are appropriate. "Thank you so much. I've had a delight evening."
5. Table Manners
1) As soon as the hostess picks up her napkin, pick yours up and lay it on your lap. Sometimes a roll of bread is wrapped in it; if so, toke it our and put it on your side plate.
2) The Soup Course
Dinner usually begins with soup. The largest spoon at your place is the soup spoon. It will be beside your plate at the right-hand side.
3) The Fish Course
If there is a fish course, it will probably follow the soup. There may be a special fork for the fish, or it may be similar to the meat fork. Often it is smaller.
4) The Meat Course
The main Course is usually served by the host himself, especially if it is a fowl or a roast which need to be carved. He will often ask each guest what piece he prefers, and it is quite proper to state your preference as to lean or fat, dark or light.
5) Using Knife and Fork
If you have English and American friends you will notice a few differences in their customs of eating. For the main or meat curse, the English keep the fork in the left hand, point curved downward, and bring the food to the mouth either by sticking the points onto it or in the case of soft vegetables, by placing it firmly on the fork in this position with the knife. Americans carve the meat in the same position, then lay down the knife and taking the fork in the right hand with the point turned up, push it under a small piece of food without the help of the knife and bring it to the moth right-side-up.
6) Helping Yourself and Refusing
If a servant passes food around, he will pass the dish in at your left hand so that you can conveniently serve yourself with your right hand. Never serve yourself while the dish is on your right; it is then the turn of your neighbor on the right. It is polite to take some of everything that is passed to you. But if there is something you may not like, you may quietly say: "No thank you."
7) Second Helpings
The hostess may or may not ask if you would like a second helping, according to the formality of the meal. If she does and you accept it, you should pass your plate to her or to the servant with the knife and fork still lying on it.
8) The Salad Course
A salad is eaten with a fork only held in the right hand with points turned up. There is usually a special one for the salad, a little smaller than the meat fork.
9) Bread and Butter
Bread is taken in the fingers and laid on the side plate or the edge of the large plate, it is never take with a fork. Butter is taken from the butter dish with the butter knife and placed on the side plate, not on one's bread.
10) Other Things on the Table
When there are things on the middle of the table, such as bread, butter, jelly, pickles, nits, candies, you should not take any until the hostess ahs suggested that they be passed.
11) Leaving the Table
It is impolite for a guest to leave the table during a meal, or before the hostess gives the signal at the end. When the hostess indicates that the dinner is over, she will start to rise from her seat and all the guests will rise from theirs at the same time.
12) Various rules and Suggestions
Sit up straight on your chair; Do not put much food in your mouth at a time; Drink only when there is no food in your mouth; Try not to get into your mouth anything that will have to be taken out; Do not make any nose when you eat; Do not clean your teeth at the table or anywhere in public, either with your finger or a tooth pick, not even with you tongue.
6. In School
1)Greeting the Teacher
If you are in a very large class, it may not be necessary to greet the teacher on arriving, but it is always quite proper if you happen to catch the teacher's eye as you enter.
2) Coming Late
It is bad manners to come late to class. If you are unavoidably late an apology should be made to the teacher either at the time or after class.
3) Talking in Class
It if bad manners in the schoolroom, as elsewhere, to talk while anyone else is taking.
7. In Public Places
1) Traffic Laws
The coming of the motor car made definite traffic law and regulations a practical necessity. To obey these law is not so much a matter of curtsey as a moral obligation.
2) For People Walking
People walking should keep to the sidewalks and should keep to the right of the sidewalk.
3) The Theater
The theater proper is more formal than the movies. At the theater best clothes are in order; evening clothes are often worn.
4) The Movies
The movies are more informal. Any kind of respectable clothes may be worn, and small confection may be eaten quietly as long as there are no objectionable noses to annoy one's neighbors.
5) In Church
It is usual for anyone attending church to take some money along for the offering, as it is a regular part of every church service and is used for the work of the church. Good clothes, but never evening clothes, are worn to a church service.
8. Special Occasions
Birthday in the West, as in China, are considered occasions for congratulations and sometimes for gifts from near friends.
If one receives an announcement of a wedding after it is over, a note of congratulation may be sent, but a gift is not necessary.
3) The Funeral
Funerals, of course, are always sand, but the tendency in Western countries is against making any show of one's feelings at the funeral. The idea behind this is that the person dead would wish this last meeting of his friends in his honor and remembrance to be full of tender, happy recollections of his life.
9. With Strangers and Friends
1) Lending and borrowing are more matters of principle in the West than in the East. Things borrowed in the West are definitely expected to be returned, whether it is fifty dollars or merely a friend's pencil.
2) Don't Be Curious
It is impolite to be curious about the private affairs of others, such as age, salary, religion and marriage.
3) Thanks for Gifts
When some one gives you a present, it is very impolite to neglect thank him for it.
4) One Hand Only
In china we use two hands when giving something to a person, or when receiving it, if we want to be very polite. In the West this would seem awkward and impolite.
10. Personal Habits and Appearance
1) People judge you at first by what they see, so particular attention should be paid to your personal appearance.
2) Using a Handkerchief
Always carry a clean handkerchief. Do not use it while it is folded, and do not fold it after you use it.
In the West it is considered very impolite to spit, even upon the street.
Smoking is very prevalent, both by men and by women. If you are a guest in a home where no others are smoking, it is better to refrain from smoking, you may say, "Would you mind if I smoked?".
11. Some Points for Men
1) With a Lady
Always allow the lady to precede you in places where one has to go before the other except in the following case: when getting off a street car, train, bus, or out of an automobile; when going up stair; when opening a heavy door. When you are walking along the street with a lady, always walk on the outside.
2) At a Dance
If you wish to dance with a certain lady, go to her, bow, and say:" May I have the pleasure of a dance?"
Selected from Western Manners by Earl and Katharine Willmontt and translated by Wan Rongfang