Politeness in Spanish- language and cultural norms

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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In the DR or in the Spanish-speaking world you will or will have noticed linguistic and cultural differences compared to your (native language or languages and culture). In my opinion, understanding and expressing politeness in language is tied to many cultural norms. I change the way I speak and address people along with other cultural norms depending on whether I am speaking in English or Spanish. Tone, forms of address, body language and word choice all are key factors in conveying politeness in Spanish and language in general.

I like to make observations especially in public venues like at the bank (for those who still do some traditional banking), the grocery store, the mall, the convenient store, the airport etc. in my experience politessness in language for the most part is tied to culture and what is considered polite in one may not be in another and vice versa.

In Spanish, I think there are many basic forms of politeness in the language that I recommend people know and understand. I think it can be challenging for some people but others adapt, understand or go with the flow a lot easier than others.

Have you learned politeness in Spanish? (meaning the words, expressions, forms of address, cultural norms etc).
 
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Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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Words that relate to the topic:


educado/a- polite

buenos modales- good manners

malos modales- bad manners

cortés

amable

respetuoso/a

fino/a
 

NanSanPedro

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I think I notice them on signs outside. They use the formal su instead of tu. It took me awhile to figure that out, but then a light bulb came on. I'm sure there's more, but that's what I notice.

Also, it seems typical for a person entering a guagua to say bueno dia. That's never done on American buses. That may not be considered being polite, but it is a cultural norm.
 
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Chirimoya

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I really like the convention of greeting strangers in public places like buses, waiting rooms, lifts, etc. It's also customary to say "buen provecho" to the people who are still eating as you walk past their table on the way out of a restaurant.

Dominicans will say "a buen tiempo" when someone comes into the room when they're eating, usually in response to buen provecho. As far as I know, this custom is exclusively Dominican.

The conventions around knowing when to use or usted vary according to Spanish-speaking country. There's even a word - tutear - which means to address someone informally using rather than usted.

English no longer has formal/familiar forms of address but on the whole, English-speakers say please, thank you, and sorry more than speakers of languages with this distinction. We change the way we phrase a sentence depending on our relationship with the person we're addressing.
 

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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I think I notice them on signs outside. They use the formal su instead of tu. It took me awhile to figure that out, but then a light bulb came on. I'm sure there's more, but that's what I notice.

Also, it seems typical for a person entering a guagua to say bueno dia. That's never done on American buses. That may not be considered being polite, but it is a cultural norm.
What has your Fluencia course taught you? Is there a chapter on politeness, forms of address etc?


Bueno(s) día (s)= buenos días always remember this if you travel to a Spanish-speaking country outside of the Caribbean.
 
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Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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I really like the convention of greeting strangers in public places like buses, waiting rooms, lifts, etc. It's also customary to say "buen provecho" to the people who are still eating as you walk past their table on the way out of a restaurant.

Dominicans will say "a buen tiempo" when someone comes into the room when they're eating, usually in response to buen provecho. As far as I know, this custom is exclusively Dominican.

The conventions around knowing when to use or usted vary according to Spanish-speaking country. There's even a word - tutear - which means to address someone informally using rather than usted.

English no longer has formal/familiar forms of address but on the whole, English-speakers say please, thank you, and sorry more than speakers of languages with this distinction. We change the way we phrase a sentence depending on our relationship with the person we're addressing.
Yes, greeting strangers in public is the norm. Actually, I feel uncomfortable otherwise. Especially in the elevator. I always greet when I walk-in - buenas, buenos días, what ever is appropriate at the time.

Tutear vs tratar de usted one must learn the forms of address accordingly. However, there are some standards for example when speaking to the elderly, strangers, certain professions...one has to learn this in Spanish.

English has the universal you which I try to explain to Spanish speakers but some don’t understand although there is no pronoun differentiation there are other ways to show respect and convey politeness in English.

In Spanish, the verb form can also replace por favor to convey politeness.
 

NanSanPedro

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What has your Fluencia course taught you? Is there a chapter on politeness, forms of address etc?


Bueno(s) día (s)= buenos días always remember this if you travel to a Spanish-speaking country outside of the Caribbean.
Fluencia has not really addressed it outside of the normal tú/usted/ustedes. Even then they don't give too many guidelines. Teachers and judges and the elderly. I think because they address so many Spanish speaking countries, it's tough to narrow it down for 1 or 2.
 

Fulano2

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I really like the convention of greeting strangers in public places like buses, waiting rooms, lifts, etc. It's also customary to say "buen provecho" to the people who are still eating as you walk past their table on the way out of a restaurant.

Dominicans will say "a buen tiempo" when someone comes into the room when they're eating, usually in response to buen provecho. As far as I know, this custom is exclusively Dominican.

The conventions around knowing when to use or usted vary according to Spanish-speaking country. There's even a word - tutear - which means to address someone informally using rather than usted.

English no longer has formal/familiar forms of address but on the whole, English-speakers say please, thank you, and sorry more than speakers of languages with this distinction.
In general I find Dominicans very polite. Like leaving a person saying “permiso” etc.
Saying buen provecho was somewhat dificult for me as this sounds a bit rude. But I do it, but not at home.
 

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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Fluencia has not really addressed it outside of the normal tú/usted/ustedes. Even then they don't give too many guidelines. Teachers and judges and the elderly. I think because they address so many Spanish speaking countries, it's tough to narrow it down for 1 or 2.
At least they touch on the topic. I think it is important. It is something I always observe especially when in a Latin country how foreigners tend to miss the queues and the nuances. It is so important even in business when you have people coming together on a conference call from different countries or cultures.
 

Salsafan

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I am living in Germany. Hier one always says hello when entering a restaurant. I find it very nice also in Dr.
 

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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Children saying bendición to elders as a greeting. It’s basically asking for a blessing. A typical response is Que Dios te bendiga.

Bendición mamá, bendición tía etc.
then the response can vary but all are blessings.

I am only aware of this in Latin culture. I have not observed this in other cultures.
 

carlos

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And you will often hear bendición shortened to son.

You may hear:

Bendición Tía or Son Tía.

Sounds like sewn not sun.

We are taught this at a young age so it may be difficult to say bendición but with time you will even hear adults say Son!
 
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Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
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Here is a general summary of the usage of the pronouns tú, vos and usted which all mean You.

The norms differ in each country but this video will give you a good overview.

The video is in Spanish.


 

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
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Greeting in Latin culture is something that is expected all the time and not only with the family but with friends of the family, and friends in general etc. Also when you start a conversation with somone it is normal for that person to ask ¿cómo está la familia? ¿tu mamá, tu papá? etc. As well, when you walk into a room you are expected to greet everyone. In general, this is very different from English-speaking countries for ex, Canada and the US. There is a lot less formality or expectation of this type of greeting. Many times you are lucky if people say good morning. Definitely there is some adaptation required depending on where you are and the expected cultural norm.
 
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Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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Tutear meaning the usage of which is most common in the DR and usted is more for formal situations or expected norms like with elders, strangers and people of certain professions . In general, the DR is tuteo country.

As well, outside of politeness and cultural norms of usage is common because of the predominant speech pattern of dropping the S. From a linguistic perspective, it is the reason why the usage of the pronoun is very high in the Caribbean Antilles. It has become a clarifier of the verb or for emphasis of who is doing the action. Normally, in Spanish the subject pronoun is not used (only for clarity, emphasis or ambiguity) because the conjugated verb ending indicates who is doing the action.
 
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Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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Here is an article about the usage of tú vs. usted in the Dominican Republic.

It is in Spanish (google translate if necessary)



A good article and indeed a lot has changed.
 
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