Hello,

Could any American confirm the following text in blue that I cited from the book named Language of Change by a German-Aermerican professor Paul W?

1. I think Americans are way less formal than Germans, maybe other Europeans as well, but I don't think Americans can be address the first name almost immediately.

2. I don't think Americans dislike puns, and but would enjoy it as well.

Do you think so?

Thanks!

One obvious manifestation of this reverence for candor is the cult of informality in American dress and American speech-the almost immedicate use of first names, for instance, rather than the more distant impersonal modes of address. For the first names, like casual clothes, suggest ease, openness, the frankness of familiarity, whereas formality implies reserve and consquestionly a certain degree of concealment. Another less obivious manifestation of the same impulsse may be a phenomenon that puzzled me for a long tme after my arrival in this country, namely the fact that pun, which are so prized in Great Britan, are generally greeted by Americans with groans of disapproval. The reasn I have come to suspect, is that any form of double-entendre reminds us that words as well as people are capable of having hidden meaning, that the very language we use to communicate with each other is not always completely "sincere".

Americans are formal in formal situations. Most situations in life are not ridiculously formal. Depending on the situation, it can be very likely for people to use first names immediately. Americans consider that a welcoming, warm, friendly expression toward the other person, to put the other person at ease. We try not to be classist, so we try to minimize the social or financial differences among us. That is another reason to use first names. If I insist that you use Ms. while addressing me, I am setting myself up to be seen as higher than you. Professionally, using surnames is often considered "professionalism" and respectful. We might blur the lines of the hierarchy at work if we become too friendly in the way we address each other. That is a different situation.


Regarding the pun, Americans love them. We groan in appreciation at how obvious they are once we hear them. It is not a sincere groan of disgust. The groan has been misinterpreted.

You might also like to consider the American and British attitude towards irony, which is also a form of double-entendre.

You can find a lot of discussion of this by searching Google,

eg http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/3433375.stm