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For the UK, I'd have to say religion and money are taboo subjects - you can skirt around them but not get too seriously involved in discussing them as they are seen as very private matters. Yesterday I met someone from another culture who kept pushing and pushing me to tell him how much I earn - and couldn't understand why I was so reluctant to do so. I know that in his culture it's a perfectly valid topic of conversation so I tried just politely fobbing him off but he wouldn't take no for an answer. In the end I exploded "I'm English and we don't talk about money.There is no way I'm telling you that. It's very rude to ask me that" because he just didn't want to take no for an answer. I felt so uncomfortable and really didn't want to even be asked that, let alone tell him, and then I felt uncomfortable as I'm sure he thought I was very rude!
I've known people for years without knowing what their religion is, or if in fact they have any religious beliefs at all.
On the other hand I think that in the UK we are fairly free and easy discussing bodily functions and sex (we generally have quite 'dirty minds') and those subjects may well be taboo in other cultures.
In Italy we don't like to talk about sex,instead. As a matter of fact sex is often associate with sin,and is a taboo in itself,because of Catholic religion's heritage,I think.It's a very private matter for us,indeed when you say the word "sex",or everything is concerned with,you are whispering. (However,it depends in which region you are!)
Religion:we don't have problem to talk about.The majority of italians are Catholics,and the Church is a very strong presence,so we discuss often about religion,moral,ethic,religion choices,etc.
Money:it depends.Some people like sooo much to tell how much they earn every month,other people,instead,feel really unconfortable when you ask what is their economic situation.
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We all have our little quirks. In general, it is our choice what we decide to accept as apropriate topics for discusion. I think, in the US, we have become much more tolerant in the past 10 years or so. Much of our reluctance to accept certain things comes from the religious "Right", but I think their efforts are often misguided. I am a Christian, but I don't feel a responsability to stuff my ideals down everyone elses throat. The very basic foundations of Christianity are rooted in "spreading the news", and it is often hard for a Christian to resist the urge to spout off about it.
I am a psychology student, and enjoy very much being able to learn more about other cultures. If nothing else, maybe we can agree that we all have it quite good right now. We are probably the most individualistic people on the planet, but that does not mean that there are not those of us who care about the rest of the world.
As for taboo topics of conversation, my cousin, a teacher by profession who writes about education, complains, bitterly, that democracy and autonomy are taboo, despite elaborate presences otherwise. My own experience is similar. Indeed, see if you can spot the taboo topics on my website at: (URL removed)
nona the britFor the UK, I'd have to say religion and money are taboo subjects - you can skirt around them but not get too seriously involved in discussing them as they are seen as very private matters.It's pretty much the same in Finland, at least as far as my generation is concerned. The young may act somewhat differently, though. I'm not sure. I never thought about it but I think very few people actually take an interest in other people's religious beliefs. This applies to Helsinki and other cities. Again, things may be different in some areas in the countryside where religion has a more prominent place in many people's lives.
. . it is tactless to ask whom are you going to vote for, it might be awkward to both of you.
In the culture I live in, I can think of lots of situations where this seems like good advice.
Best wishes, Clive
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