RE: [Slovak-World] Re: How to say hello to East Europeans in the US
- How to get acquainted with a stranger?
Never ask a personal question first. This is brutal.
Slovaks have a very interesting answer to someone, who was offended by a
Vsak pytat sa mozem, nie? / I may ask, no?
Nothing can be farther from the truth.
One may not ask just anything. ( how old is your underwear, for example)
First you must build some confidence by either talking about things that are
common to you and the person at that very moment, like weather, his dog, (
many people use dogs as an intermediary to make contact to a person), time
of the day, his car, by asking the way to..., the crop, and things like
If the opposite party is willing to talk, you can then get closer, but is is
better to first tell something about yourself, and then ask about something
similar to what you said.
This is an art and could be explained in a book.
Americans have another very interesting sentence :" I asked you a question."
This implies, that the other party is owing you an answer. Not so. You do
not have a right to get an answer every time.
A question can sometimes be like a shot from a gun. Person dead.
So, be careful and allow the other party to get over all the usual thinking
processes in his/her head, before the gates will open a bit.
After all, who are you to ask? I deal with this every day.
From: Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com] On
Behalf Of amiak27
Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2007 9:49 AM
Subject: [Slovak-World] Re: How to say hello to East Europeans in the US
Yes, a good answer it is. Years ago I noticed that when people would
start with "may I ask you a personal question?" they would often come
up with outrageous questions - so my standard answer became "yes, ask,
but that doesn't mean I have to answer." Some people reacted as if I
slapped their faces.
Just the other day I asked a grocery store clerk what language she and
another clerk were speaking; it was quite melodious. She answered
"Hmong" and we started to talk about ethnicity when the next customer
arrived and she had to check them out. In response to her question, I
responded that my family has been here for 100 years, and that I wish
I spoke more of the language...
In Slovakia I usually speak English first, German second (so they know
by then that I am not German), and Slovak for very simple things. My
attempt at Slovak usually brings out any second languages they may speak!
--- In Slovak-World@ <mailto:Slovak-World%40yahoogroups.com>
yahoogroups.com, "J. Edward Polko"
> Truer words were never spoken Martin.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Slovak-World@ <mailto:Slovak-World%40yahoogroups.com>
> Behalf Of Martin Votrubathe US
> Sent: Monday, July 30, 2007 7:53 PM
> To: Slovak-World@ <mailto:Slovak-World%40yahoogroups.com> yahoogroups.com
> Subject: [Slovak-World] Re: How to say hello to East Europeans in
>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> > My opening line is "You have such a beautiful accent.
> > May I ask where you're from?" The most frequent response
> > is a beautiful smile, not just their lips, but their eyes too.
> > And then we strike up a conversation on their home, how long
> > they've been here, and my family's roots. I have met people
> > from Eastern Europe, as well as the Scandinavian countries and
> What the person who asks doesn't realize is that what's a rare
> event for him/her, may be a stupefyingly repetitive, boring and
> boorish situation for the stranger -- that someone like that wants to
> "meet" them perhaps several times a day when they open their mouths in
> public because they're oh, so interesting for the person who wants to
> meet them. But do we ask ourselves whether it is interesting for the
> accosted stranger? Just because they smile with whatever after
> they've been accosted does not mean so, that's what being polite means
> even at the expense of accommodating an intruder.
> The person with an accent most likely merely wanted to do buy a
> jacket, take a flight, ask for directions, and see an exhibition, not
> to be quizzed about her/his origins by and treated to the family
> histories of the cashier, the guy in the next seat on the plane, the
> woman who didn't know the directions but wanted to gab, and the docent
> at the museum, all in a single day.
> If simple consideration, an attempt to view it from the asked person's
> perspective doesn't work, let me bring in Miss Manners (WP, May 2007,
> it's about asking friends -- not even strangers -- about their marital
> status and orientation):
> _____ "You may ask if you have a legitimate reason for
> _____ wanting to know, and no, curiosity doesn't count."
> Let me underscore it -- one's curiosity about a stranger's whatever
> attribute does not create an entitlement to have that curiosity
> satisfied, does not make it decent, appropriate, polite to ask. And
> not to be hit over the head with a two-by-four in response is not an
> indication that it's welcome, either. That applies to all kinds of
> personal queries a minority of people accost strangers with. They
> mistake a public place for an arena to "meet strangers," typically of
> course in order to hold the stranger hostage to stories about their
> important selves (their family roots in this instance). How much have
> they thought about whether the majority want to meet them, anyone at
> all at the airport?
> There's a good test, let's wait for a stranger with an accent to ask
> us where we're from in a public place; that'll provide a clue as to
> what percentage of them care to "meet us."
> votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]