Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ei Je or Hey You There! Another Cultural Faux Pas is Added to my Belt

In my futile attempt to share intercultural tips to an organization, I find my due diligence is lacking and once again I fall into the faux pas category.

Why? I trusted a random internet website which I searched, believing it as being factual and I did not verify correctly out of being pressed for time.

Important to remember: Many websites have erroneous information so be diligent and verify, verify, verify.

Cultural Tip: Making an effort to speak a little language internationally, even if it is only to greet with a “hello” and to respond with a “thank you,” will be greatly appreciated. Many Americans make no attempt to learn even the most simple of phrases when they go globally. Making an effort to learn and speak will build relationships and enhance your experience while traveling abroad.

By learning to say hello in the following eight languages, you can personally greet over half of the worlds people (3 billion people):

Chinese (Mandarin) ‘ni hao’, English ‘hello’, Hindi ‘namaste’, Spanish ‘hola’, Arabic ‘al salaam’, Bengali ei je’ (should be Namashkar), see below, Portuguese ‘bom dia’, Russian ‘Zdravstvuite’.

Here is an anonymous (I know who, but you do not) email received in response to my cultural tip.


Not sure where you got this, but its way of use, in American English, or the equivalent, would be "Hey! You - there!" This is hardly a way to make a good impression on somebody you do not know. I am not only a born Bengali, but also quite accomplished in its language. The appropriate and polite way to address a stranger in Bengali is "Namashkar", it is a Sanskrit word, which is more formal and more universally used to address.

Signed Anonymous

I am very thankful to my anonymous responder, as his email message has reinforced a great value, which I call, “Avoiding cultural faux pas.” I am learning from life’s lessons. Fun!

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