Colorful Cultures
文/柯紫婷老師Christina

主講/英語教學

柯紫婷老師

開設課程: 英文會話Level A, D 英文商用會話

Have you ever thought of how big the world is?  There are around 190 countries in the world, and all these countries have their own fascinatingly interesting cultures and traditions. Although there are some similarities among cultures, there are some significant differences as well, and altogether these make the world a fun and colorful place. I tried to collect some of the most interesting characteristic features of different cultures, I hope you will enjoy them!

  • There are over 6,000 languages spoken in the world today, many of which are spoken by fewer than a few hundred people. The top 10 or 12 languages however make up the vast majority of all of the speakers in the world.
  • Did you know that the Inuits (Eskimos) have a lot of words to describe snow, since it is part of their everyday life? Similarly the Zulus use many words for the colour „green”. How many words do you know to describe snow?
  • If you think about time, what comes to your mind first? Past, present, or future? Interestingly in Asian countries the perception of time is rather past-oriented (ancestors, values), in Latin American countries as well as southern European countries rather present-oriented, and in Western Europe as well as North America rather future-oriented.
  • Shaking the head in a horizontal direction in most countries means „no”, while in India it means „yes”. So next time when you travel to India or talk to a person from India, be careful! J
  • Thumbs up! But what does it exactly mean? Well, showing the thumb held upwards means „everything’s ok” in Latin America, especially in Brazil, and also in many other countries, while it is understood in some Islamic countries as well as Sardinia and Greece as a rude sexual sign. Furthermore, the sign of thumb up may signify the number "one" in France and a few other central European countries.
  • „Everything ok” is shown in western European countries, especially between pilots and divers, with the sign of the thumb and forefinger forming an „O”. This sign means in Japan „now we may talk about money”, in southern France the contrary „nothing, without any value”. So make sure you use it correctly!
  • In Mediterranean European countries, Latin America and Sub Saharan Africa, it is normal, or at least widely tolerated, to arrive half an hour late for a dinner invitation, whereas in Germany and Switzerland this would be extremely rude.
  • If invited to dinner, in many Asian countries and Central America it is well-mannered to leave right after the dinner: the ones who don’t leave may indicate they have not eaten enough. In the Indian Sub-Continent, European and North American countries this is considered rude, indicating that the guest only wanted to eat but wouldn’t enjoy the company with the hosts.
  • Mexicans celebrate New Year’s Eve by eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. This tradition is actually fairly common among Latin American countries and dates back to their ancestors.

There are a lot of interesting cultures around you, next time when you study a language, do not forget to learn about countries and their customs as well, it could be much more entertaining than studying only grammar and vocabulary! ;)