Monday, 26 July 2010

Asking questions the Australian way

I found some of my bits and pieces (ie. my secret journal full of gossip and hot dates) from when I was a Rotary Exchange Student, back in 1991. I find it embarassing strange to come face-to-face with the younger me.

Amongst my things was a crumpled bit of paper with a speech I delivered to the RC of Nowra (my sponsoring Club) before I left on my journey to Germany. I was 17.

I found this speech rather amusing (if somewhat incorrect, possibly a bit racist and definitely NOT politically correct), and thought I would share some excerpts from it with you.

PART ONE - Asking Questions the Australian Way (today's post)
PART TWO - The Australian Party etiquette (tomorrow).
PART THREE - Having a Conversation with an Australian (Wednesday)

In Europe, in the States, or in South America, when you wish to find out something personal from someone, you simply attract their attention, look them in the eyes and say: "Now, what exactly was your father's mother's maiden name?"

The European will immediately launch into an elaborate family history of the past 20 years.

The American will recount all hardships his paternal grandmother had to endure during her early years on the Missouri {do you think I meant Mississippi?}.

South Americans will not only volunteer the maiden name but her other names as well, along with the names of all her famous lovers.

In Australia, ask the same question and you could be considered the rudest person on earth. Asking questions is one thing that a true Australian never does.

Don't get me wrong now. The Australian may want to know things of course - curiosity is no less a human trait in the "lucky country" than anywhere else. What a successfully moulded Australian would say when inquisitive is:
"I, um, understand from Joe Bloggs that your paternal grandmother was a Smith".

Confident that there are not more than 2 million names on any State's electoral role, resilient Australians will assume - quite correctly - that as long as they keep on trying, they must eventually guess the correct name.

Of course, the alternative is not to ask anything in the first place - which is seemingly what everyone has been doing all along around here!

While people generally ask questions because they want to know the answers. In Australia, you only ask questions when you don't.

Do you think Australians like to ask it straight or beat around the bush as my 17 year old self thought?


Maxabella said...

How gorgeous was your speech!! So confident and 'worldly' you were. What a great thing to find, Coo. We need to discuss!

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

This is funny, and I agree, what a find! It's interesting that I see resemblances to your present-day writing style.

I did an exchange in Russia my junior year of college. It was an amazing experience. I remember one of the professors launching into a diatribe about Americans versus Brits versus Russians. It was so funny, but there was definitely truth in it, as well.

mummabear1970 said...

So true!
I have just been going back through comments on my own blog & found yours from last month - my apologies for being so slack in responding to you!

Thanks for dropping by my still new blog - I have joined to follow yours as I found this post funny!

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