Consider the folkways that govern how we signal “yes” or “no” in American and Albanian cultures (this is in response to Suzan’s comment on my previous post). In America, when a store clerk asks us if we would like assistance, we nod our heads (up and down) if we do want help and shake our heads (side to side) if we don’t. In contrast, in Albania people nod their heads to indicate “no” and shake their heads to indicate “yes.” Suzan gave a great example of the awkwardness she experienced because she did not understand this difference.
Each culture has folkways that govern people’s behavior in simple situations, but we don’t stop to consider that others may do things differently in other cultures until we encounter a response or behavior that seems unconventional.
Can you think of other folkways that would be acceptable in other cultures but totesawk if enacted in American and vice versa?