The ‘How Are You?’ Culture Clash
Posted: 20 January 2014 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  464
Joined  2007-02-13

An interesting op-ed piece in the NYT about how the phrase, “how are you?” in English is more of a greeting than a query.  The article focuses on Russian culture, but I’ve found that you don’t want to ask “how are you?” in a lot of cultures unless you are prepared to receive a detailed answer.

Posted: 21 January 2014 06:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  4074
Joined  2007-01-29

There’s some truth to it, but it is (of course—this is journalism!) highly overstated and overcolored.  A Russian-American who posted it on Facebook wrote:

I’m sorry, this article is garbage by someone who wants to monetize a culture that she doesn’t understand for the benefit of readers who have well-established stereotypes about grim Russians. Go to Russia and ask people “Kak dela?” Most of them will say “nichego,” “khorosho,” “normal’no"--which are literally equivalent to “fine”!

That, of course, is overstated as well; it’s perfectly obvious that Russians exhibit far less in the way of automatic good cheer than Americans.  But everybody knew that already.