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The Cat and The Dog / Кошка с собакой - crimeanelf — LiveJournal
crimeanelf
crimeanelf
The Cat and The Dog / Кошка с собакой
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From: (Anonymous) Date: November 17th, 2007 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think you can really put things in black and white. First I want to talk about the "Hi how are you?" of the Americans: I agree with you that this basically means "Hi, is there anything more important for you in this moment, than the topic I'm about to talk to you?" but I wanted to emphasize that this does include they way you are currently feeling and literally how are you. In other words: "I'm doing horrible, my mom just died" is a perfectly valid answer.

Now concerning the smiles: If you ask me, I would say that humans in general (I'm sure Russians do it also) smile when they are trying to be friendly and (I'm sure Americans do it also) smile when they are feeling well. What differs between Russia and the USA is the existence of a ritual that takes the form of a particular type of smile. This smile is given to a passerby that you don't really know, and it basically means "Hi!". In any case, I agree that the problem here is that this ritual involves a very primal gesture that is universal to all human beings, and has an instinctive meaning before any particular cultural meaning. This makes it confusing to outsiders and easily misinterpreted. A Colombian equivalent of this is saying "Buenas!" (a short version of Good Day!) to every single human being you cross your eyes with. As you can see, as opposed to the "friendly smile" ritual, this leaves no room for misinterpretation because it involves a spoken language which has only a cultural meaning.

Andrés
crimeanelf From: crimeanelf Date: November 17th, 2007 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
>In other words: "I'm doing horrible, my mom just died" is a perfectly valid answer.

Yes, but not always, right? Only if it is more important than the subject of the conversation (in case of you feeling horrible because your mom just died it is obviously so).


>I would say that humans in general (I'm sure Russians do it also) smile when they are trying to be friendly and (I'm sure Americans do it also) smile when they are feeling well

Again, I would say, that Russian have to be in EXTREME need to be friendly to express it with a smile. I guess it has to be an extraodrinary, not an everyday case. As for Americans, I have noticed, that when they are smiling because they feel well, they often also express themselves with words, as if to reduce disambiguation.
18 comments or Leave a comment