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Part 1 Getting to know each other (ДЛЯ СТУДЕНТО...doc
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2 Read Text 2 to learn more about safe and unsafe subjects in conversation in the usa. Text 2. Safe and Unsafe Subjects for Talk

It is hard to generalize about conversation in the USA. Conversation is generally less lively than in the Latin countries, where everyone talks at once. When someone talks here, everyone is expected to listen, no matter how dull the talker may be.

In the search for conversational material, work is a good bet. In many countries, it is not seemly to ask, ‘What do you do?’ Not so here. We are so often defined by our work that we are happy to talk about it. But if work proves unproductive, you might try, ‘What do you do in your spare time?’

You can safely inquire about wives or husbands, children, geographical background, hobbies, and habits. Ethnicity is a subject of some interest, and Americans will inquire about the ancestry of others.

Politics is discussed among people who are in relative agreement, but when a group is far apart, politics becomes a subject to be avoided. On the whole, we dislike argument. If an argument breaks out, we try to smooth it over or break it up.

The best way to do so is to return to the harmless topics. Many of these are questions of taste. ‘Did you like such-and-such a movie? What do you think of the food at that new restaurant? How do you like the weather?’ Through discussing mutual likes and dislikes, we find out whether this is our kind of person. American society is classed by tastes as much as by anything else.

Compliments are always in order. ‘What a pretty dress... I love your earrings ... What a nice tie.’ (But not, ’How much did you pay?’) We keep the compliments flowing even with close friends and family. The recipient should accept the compliment graciously by looking very pleased and saying, ‘Oh, thank you.’ The tale of the item in question often provides further talk.

Most of the people will be glad to hear about your country and about your impressions of America. You can be frank. We’ve become accustomed to criticism in recent years, although of course it’s always tactful to mix a few positive comments in with the negative. (‘The bus stations are awful, and I hate the food, but the people are so friendly’.)

There are two subjects that may rapidly bring conversation to a halt: age and money. You also should not poke too obviously into someone’s class background. We worry about invading people’s privacy, and we also have the idea that foreigners aren’t used to personal inquiries.

When all other conversation fails, there are always sports and the children to fall back on. If you are male, an interest in the fortunes of the local football and baseball team may serve you well at parties.

What we have very little of are pre-cut conversational rites. Even when engaging in small talk, you have to make up your own lines.

(Culture Shock! USA. A Guide to Customs and Etiquette. Esther Wanning)

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