“When studying foreign speech, don’t forget about body language,” Anne Merritt said.
Something as simple as a smile can show friendliness in one culture, embarrassment in another, impatience in a third. Even silence means different things in different places. If you want to avoid making some mistakes when traveling abroad, you should pay attention to the following.
Britain, along with much of Northern Europe and the Far East, has a “non-contact” culture. In those countries, there is very little physical contact(接触) in people’s daily talks. Even brushing someone’s arm by accident is the reason for an apology. However, in the high-contact cultures of the Middle East, Latin America, and southern Europe, physical touch is a big part of daily life.
What’s more, there are different standards for who touches whom and where. In much of the Arab world, men hold hands and kiss each other in greeting, but would never do the same with a woman. In Thailand and Laos, it is taboo(禁忌) to touch anyone’s head, even children’s. In South Korea, elders can touch younger people with force when trying to get through a crowd, but younger people can’t do the same.