Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Fri Aug 25 20:17:33 UTC 2000

Mike Salovesh wrote:
> Thomas Paikeday wrote:
> >
> > In many cultures, asking the price of something not offered for sale is
> > taboo. It's a foreboding of bad luck.
> The anthropologist in me can't resist what Lewis Carroll would have
> called a contrariwise:
> ...
> It took a very long time for us to accept questions expressed in terms
> we simply can't imagine happening in similar circles in the U.S.  A
> typical example of a statement that would be taken as appropriately
> gracious would be something like:
> "Thank you very much for this beautiful gift.  It's exactly what I
> wanted.  How much did it cost you?"
I've had similar experiences. Certain Asian friends would tut-tut about
overfamiliarity if I asked someone on brief acquaintance "Are you
married?" but persons from the same group had no trouble asking on
similar brief acquaintance "How much did you make last year?" ....

-- Doug Wilson
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