Etiquette & Languages

Etiquette and Languages observes how people relate to each other through behaviors and speech. Find information on topics like tipping, sign language, good manners and slang.


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The Southern Accent Is Dying, Y'all

When there's a big influx of Northerners into a Southern city, why do the locals begin to lose their Southern accents, as opposed to the other way around?

Apparently Rudeness Spreads From Person to Person Like a Disease

Ever notice how one person's jerky behavior can sour a whole room? There's science behind that.

10 Historical Words That Don't Mean What You Think

You may call your cousin a Luddite because he still plays CDs, but the word didn't originally mean someone who's a technophobe. What other historical words do people use incorrectly?

How Code Switching Works

Ever dialed up or down your accent depending on whom you're speaking with? Or switched from one language to another mid-sentence? Even if you haven't, you've seen it done. Why do people do that — and is it conscious?

Is it rude to mention someone on a volatile Twitter hashtag?

A Twitter war is brewing, and you're itching to drag an innocent into the conversation. To @ or not to @?

Is it rude to point out someone else's rudeness?

Ever met a person who wouldn't hand over an item until the receiver said "the magic word"? As it turns out, that person may be rude too.

Is it rude to point out someone else's typos?

We get it: You're a grammar nerd, and correcting typos is your lifeblood. You might want to slow down with the virtual red pen, though — pointing out typos is often unnecessary.

Is it rude to leave your cell phone ringer on at the office?

Even if you're waiting on some important calls, putting your phone on the vibrate or silent ringer setting can make a world of a difference.

Is it rude to knit in public?

There are plenty more troublesome public behaviors to discourage, but knitting can be a distraction all the same.

10 Obscene Hand Gestures From Around the World

A friendly gesture in one country might be a highly insulting one in another. Here are 10 rude gestures that you'd better be sure you're using correctly before trying them out.

5 Ways Etiquette Makes Life Easier

The thought of etiquette may conjure images of fancy dinners with a dizzying array of forks. Don't panic. Knowing a few simple etiquette rules can smooth the ride for all of us making our way in the world together.

Is it rude to block people on social media?

Kicking someone out of your social media territory is necessary sometimes, even if you feel it's a breach of etiquette.

Is it rude to ignore someone's texts?

The good news: Sometimes you can ignore that text message you really don't want to answer. The bad news: The rules on when it's acceptable to do so are vague.

Is it rude to blow your nose at the table?

If you've got a runny nose but your spaghetti is just too good for you to leave the table, don't fret: It may be OK to blow your nose without stepping away.

Is it rude to correct people's grammar?

The grammar-correcting pedant is a ubiquitous character in the strange and sometime cruel realm of social media and comment sections on the Internet. Are these "grammar police" helpful or just plain rude?

Is it rude to go to the reception if you didn't go to the wedding?

Let's face it: Free champagne and food are huge incentives to attend a wedding reception. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't go to the ceremony, too.

How to Tell Someone They Have Something in Their Teeth

Normally, it's extremely rude to point out flaws in somebody's appearance. One big exception: the very embarrassing, but easily fixed, case of food stuck in someone's teeth.

How to Tell Someone They Have Body Odor

It's an awkward task that most often falls to bosses, teachers and very close friends. So what's the best way to tell someone about an unpleasant body odor?

How to Tell Someone They're Not Invited to Your Wedding

You should never assume you're invited to someone else's wedding ... but someone is sure to assume they're invited to yours. What do you do when that's not true?

How to Tell Someone They Have Bad Breath

It's hard to get a good whiff of your own breath, so if someone close to you doesn't smell a problem, it may fall to you to break the awkward news.

How to Tell Someone They Talk Too Loudly

If somebody on your neighborhood bus has a booming, not-to-be-ignored voice, it's best to just leave it alone. But what do you do if that same voice thunders around your transatlantic flight?

How to Tell Someone They Sound Racist

Not speaking up when witnessing racism sends a message that racism is OK — and even that you agree with it. Here are some tips for confronting racist language.

How to Tell Someone Their Fly Is Down

Near the top of the lifetime list of minor humiliations suffered in public: the unzipped fly. Here's how to tell someone what you wish someone had told you.

How to Tell Someone They Sound Sexist

During a 2010 town hall meeting, a moderator asked Hillary Clinton which clothing designers she preferred. Her response? "Would you ever ask a man that?"

How to Tell Someone They Talk Too Much

If your blind date just won't stop droning on, it's probably best to just let it go. But when someone's nonstop talking is affecting your workplace, that's another matter.