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Cultural Taboos Essay

  • Submitted by: TaraJDel
  • on March 22, 2012
  • Category: English
  • Length: 1,052 words

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Below is an essay on "Cultural Taboos" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

Every culture has constraints on what individuals can or cannot do, act, or say.   Another word for these constraints is a taboo.   A taboo by definition is something forbidden by a religion or custom, and can also be known as a social prohibition. Culturally, we all have been taught by our own families, as well as by own interactions with our peers, which behaviors in our community are acceptable and which are not.   What one culture might deem as acceptable behavior, another might view as a vulgar or rude behavior, and as such, conflicts may arise as a result of these taboos.   This may occur often in a situation where an individual is visiting another country and is not familiar with that country’s cultural taboos, and perhaps even within our own country as a result of the various different religions and ethnicities that comprise America’s population.  
  One example of a taboo that comes to mind in my personal experiences, is hearing the expression “finish your plate!”   I, like other American children, would hear this from my parents at the dinner table as they encouraged me to finish my dinner and not to throw out or waste the food they had provided.   This statement was often followed by, “After all, there are people starving in China!"   However, what is rather comical is that if you were in China and were to "finish your plate," it would be viewed as a taboo.   This is because the Chinese believe that an empty plate implies that the dinner guest did not receive enough and is still hungry.   So, when eating in China, be sure to leave some food on your plate and avoid this taboo!
        Another situation where a certain American behavior conflicts with the Chinese view of acceptable behavior can be found when dealing with the use of business cards.   As Americans, when someone gives us their business card, most of us tend to stick the card in our pocket or wallet, and move on.   When someone gives you a business card in China, be sure not to do as you would...

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