Random Culture Thread

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-04-13, 2:56

I wonder whether there are constraints on how much linguistic quackery it's possible to get away with. I mean, there are obviously some (some kinds of linguistic quackery, at least, certainly wouldn't pass here so easily), but does it vary by culture? Is there any group of people who would accept the notion, for example, that English was merely a dialect of German?

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby Linguaphile » 2018-04-14, 5:23

vijayjohn wrote:I wonder whether there are constraints on how much linguistic quackery it's possible to get away with. I mean, there are obviously some (some kinds of linguistic quackery, at least, certainly wouldn't pass here so easily), but does it vary by culture? Is there any group of people who would accept the notion, for example, that English was merely a dialect of German?

Well I googled it and although I just scanned them quickly I found these right away: this book from 1901 and this one poking fun at the idea and this one rejecting it in favor of English being a dialect of Dutch or maybe a German-based Creole, so....
LOL.
On a more serious note, the idea that the indigenous languages of Mexico and parts of Latin America are "merely dialects" rather than "full languages" is extremely widespread. I don't think people who make that claim are thinking in terms of them being a "dialect of" something, just somehow a dialect without a language. To me it seems like that falls into the category of widely accepted linguistic quackery.

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-06-03, 19:56

Thoughts from me about Western music again:

I've noticed that in the US, people play music in a lot of contexts, and I suspect they do this a lot more than people in India do. They play it in restaurants and on their car radios (and iPods), and so do Indians (but we also do this in roadside eating stalls that are far more commonplace than restaurants per se), but they also play it over the intercom in some kinds of doctor's offices (I've definitely heard this in dentist's offices in particular...), all kinds of stores, and even the bathroom. I've also heard it at least once while waiting for a train shuttle (or was it a bus shuttle? This was many years ago, so I no longer remember). In India, I don't think I've ever seen anyone play music in any of those last four contexts.

My understanding is that it's supposed to be relaxing or whatever, but isn't it also pretty culturally exclusionary? Is it really necessary? I wonder. To be fair, of course, it's hardly less exclusionary when we blare our own music out of our cars or whatever.

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby Aurinĭa » 2018-06-04, 10:24

vijayjohn wrote:My understanding is that it's supposed to be relaxing or whatever, but isn't it also pretty culturally exclusionary?

How is it culturally exclusionary?

Is it really necessary?

Of course not, but some people like it.

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-06-04, 14:10

Aurinĭa wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:My understanding is that it's supposed to be relaxing or whatever, but isn't it also pretty culturally exclusionary?

How is it culturally exclusionary?

Because it's always Western music (and I suspect specifically either mainstream American music or - much less often IME - well-known European classical music pieces. EDIT: Or, in very few contexts down here, country music; much less often, American(?) folk music). It may be appealing to, say, white Americans, but to some of us who aren't white, it feels like the people playing this music all the time are bombarding us with music we're not interested in at all against our will. I don't think we bombard them with our own music like that at all.

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2018-06-04, 14:17

Every Indian restaurant I've ever been to has had Indian music playing, usually pop music from films. Often they have video screens showing music videos as well.
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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-06-04, 14:29

Yeah, but my point is that it's just South Asian restaurants and stores, whereas Western music is always playing not only in American stores and restaurants but also in public restrooms, in dentist's offices, at train(?) stations...and also at the airport and at bars, and that's not even an exhaustive list.

The difference is: We can't eat Indian food at a particular restaurant without going to that restaurant. But we can't eat at all without either going to the store and buying raw materials or going to some sort of establishment that serves ready-made food. We can't travel at all to places that are far away enough without going to the airport. We can't travel at all by train without going to a train station, and so on and so forth. Music associated with your culture is unavoidable for me on a scale that's nowhere close to how unavoidable music associated with mine is for you.

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2018-06-04, 14:36

vijayjohn wrote:Yeah, but my point is that it's just South Asian restaurants and stores, whereas Western music is always playing not only in American stores and restaurants but also in public restrooms, in dentist's offices, at train(?) stations...and also at the airport and at bars, and that's not even an exhaustive list.

Dude, you are IN THE WEST. What exactly do you expect?

I have a friend who doesn't like music of any sort playing in public areas. He tries to patronise places which don't but, as you know, it's hard to find them. I've actually asked proprietors to turn off music or televisions before when I found them obtrusive. I look forward to the day when the default assumption will be that anyone who feels they need this kind of distraction in a public place will have a personal device that enables it and leave the rest of us in peace.
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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-06-04, 14:43

linguoboy wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:Yeah, but my point is that it's just South Asian restaurants and stores, whereas Western music is always playing not only in American stores and restaurants but also in public restrooms, in dentist's offices, at train(?) stations...and also at the airport and at bars, and that's not even an exhaustive list.

Dude, you are IN THE WEST. What exactly do you expect?

But you won't hear Indian music in literally any of those settings in India. You won't hear it in any kind of public restroom, you won't hear it at a dentist's office, you won't hear it at a station of any sort, you won't hear it at an airport, and you won't hear it at any establishment that serves alcohol.

EDIT: Heck, in India, FWICT you won't even hear it at shops or most restaurants, and it's restricted to private homes, cars, and some small roadside restaurants/stalls. AFAICT playing Indian music in public establishments is very much an immigrant thing (probably also somewhat of a nostalgic thing).

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2018-06-04, 15:20

vijayjohn wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:Yeah, but my point is that it's just South Asian restaurants and stores, whereas Western music is always playing not only in American stores and restaurants but also in public restrooms, in dentist's offices, at train(?) stations...and also at the airport and at bars, and that's not even an exhaustive list.

Dude, you are IN THE WEST. What exactly do you expect?

But you won't hear Indian music in literally any of those settings in India. You won't hear it in any kind of public restroom, you won't hear it at a dentist's office, you won't hear it at a station of any sort, you won't hear it at an airport, and you won't hear it at any establishment that serves alcohol.

That's amazing! It's almost like the USA and India are homes to COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CULTURES or something.

Music in these locales isn't universal in "the West" either. My German friends tell me it isn't usual to have music in dentists' offices, for instance. Americans fear quiet.
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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-06-04, 16:09

linguoboy wrote:Americans fear quiet.

Interesting, that's honestly news to me, but I guess that makes sense. My surroundings are usually much quieter than I guess most Americans' are. (Right now, for instance, literally all I can hear is the sound of myself typing and maybe my computer's low hum).

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2018-06-04, 16:35

vijayjohn wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Americans fear quiet.

Interesting, that's honestly news to me, but I guess that makes sense. My surroundings are usually much quieter than I guess most Americans' are. (Right now, for instance, literally all I can hear is the sound of myself typing and maybe my computer's low hum).

I'm very sensitised to this because of a friend of mine who worked in theatre. She even went to grad school to study the use of sound in performance. In any case, she's constantly pointing out the ways that quiet is viewed in our culture as a bug rather than a feature.

For instance, I remember her sharing an article on one of the hazards of electric cars being that they were quieter than those with combustion engines, which was leading to accidents and near-accidents involving people who were used to relying on their hearing to tell them if an automobile was approaching. Naturally, the design solution being suggested was...add noise-generation to electric cars.
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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-06-04, 19:51

Another random cultural topic: I keep seeing very specific rules on how Weisswurst is supposed to be eaten in Bavaria and that anyone who doesn't follow them is either "a Prussian" or "a foreigner, and must be forgiven much." However, I also keep getting the impression that Bavarians themselves frequently violate all of these rules.

Also, somehow, my brain has trouble processing the concept that technique #3 in this video is even possible without breaking the skin :shock:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJLC-kqfKqg
Also wouldn't it make more sense to just eat the damn sausage with your hands instead of peeling it with your hands and then eating it with a knife and fork

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby Car » 2018-06-05, 11:18

linguoboy wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:Yeah, but my point is that it's just South Asian restaurants and stores, whereas Western music is always playing not only in American stores and restaurants but also in public restrooms, in dentist's offices, at train(?) stations...and also at the airport and at bars, and that's not even an exhaustive list.

Dude, you are IN THE WEST. What exactly do you expect?

But you won't hear Indian music in literally any of those settings in India. You won't hear it in any kind of public restroom, you won't hear it at a dentist's office, you won't hear it at a station of any sort, you won't hear it at an airport, and you won't hear it at any establishment that serves alcohol.

That's amazing! It's almost like the USA and India are homes to COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CULTURES or something.

Music in these locales isn't universal in "the West" either. My German friends tell me it isn't usual to have music in dentists' offices, for instance. Americans fear quiet.

Not just dentists' office, but you won't hear it either at public toilets or train stations, to just pick up some of the examples Vijay mentioned. Honestly, you can't go to the loo without having to listen to music? That sounds weird at best.
Please correct my mistakes!

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby Aurinĭa » 2018-06-05, 12:10

Car wrote:Honestly, you can't go to the loo without having to listen to music?

Unless it's an attempt to mask other sounds.

Belgium seems to be more like Germany than the US. My dentist plays (Western classical) music, my GP doesn't. Supermarkets don't, clothing shops and the like often play pop music. Train stations don't, metro stations do. Interesting fact about that: they had a problem with youth loitering late at night in the metro stations in Brussels, making individual travellers uncomfortable. So in the evening they switched from playing (Western) pop music to playing (Western) classical music. And it worked, suddenly there were no more people loitering in the metro stations, only travellers passing through.

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-06-05, 12:27

Car wrote:Honestly, you can't go to the loo without having to listen to music?

Correct. There are two bathrooms I've tried at work so far, and both of them always have music faintly playing in the background.
That sounds weird at best.

The annoying thing is that I swear it's always the same ten fucking songs on repeat, too. :roll:
Aurinĭa wrote:Unless it's an attempt to mask other sounds.

IME they play it too softly for it to mask other sounds. If anything, it's the other sounds that mask it. :lol: Given what linguoboy has just revealed to me about Americans being afraid of noise, I think it's actually the opposite: They play music in case there aren't any other sounds (so people don't have to experience silence and get scared).
Belgium seems to be more like Germany than the US. My dentist plays (Western classical) music, my GP doesn't. Supermarkets don't, clothing shops and the like often play pop music. Train stations don't, metro stations do. Interesting fact about that: they had a problem with youth loitering late at night in the metro stations in Brussels, making individual travellers uncomfortable. So in the evening they switched from playing (Western) pop music to playing (Western) classical music. And it worked, suddenly there were no more people loitering in the metro stations, only travellers passing through.

Huh, interesting! So young people were hanging around the metro stations to listen to the music?

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby Aurinĭa » 2018-06-05, 12:55

vijayjohn wrote:Huh, interesting! So young people were hanging around the metro stations to listen to the music?

The music was only one of several reasons. It's also dry in metro stations and warmer than on the streets (at least in winter). But apparently they disliked classical music so much that they stopped hanging out there, much to the relief of individual travellers late at night.

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-06-05, 13:19

Aurinĭa wrote:But apparently they disliked classical music so much that they stopped hanging out there, much to the relief of individual travellers late at night.

Unfortunately, I can imagine that happening here, too (if people did that).

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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2018-06-05, 14:29

vijayjohn wrote:The annoying thing is that I swear it's always the same ten fucking songs on repeat, too. :roll:

I think this has actually gotten better over time with the explosion in options. It's never been easier to create your own playlists or to find a niche streaming service. I can only think of a couple places any more than just play the equivalent of Top 40 radio. (Unfortunately one of them is my favourite cheap sushi place.)

For instance, the local branch of Naf Naf (think Chipotle for shawarma) used to have an all-reggae soundtrack. It was a charmingly eccentric choice. Unfortunately the new manager got embarrassed by the occasional obscenity and switched over to bro pop. The music at the local Blaze (think Chipotle for pizza) has changed markedly with each new manager, but it's never been Top 40. And back in the days when I frequented the Chipotle, their music of choice was bossa nova (which was fairly common at hipster eateries at the time).


vijayjohn wrote:
Aurinĭa wrote:Unless it's an attempt to mask other sounds.

IME they play it too softly for it to mask other sounds. If anything, it's the other sounds that mask it. :lol: Given what linguoboy has just revealed to me about Americans being afraid of noise, I think it's actually the opposite: They play music in case there aren't any other sounds (so people don't have to experience silence and get scared).

I admit, I sometimes find it a little uncanny to be in a restaurant with no music playing. I feel like I shouldn't be there, like I've arrived before they're really open for business or something.
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Re: Random Culture Thread

Postby mōdgethanc » 2018-06-05, 18:50

Yeah, Vijay-bhai, it's not an exclusionary thing any more than any other facet of North American culture. You're in America, speak American, that kind of thing. Music is like white noise to many of us. (I just made a comment about that in another thread in fact.) I don't necessarily like it any more than you do.


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