Thursday, May 29, 2014

Internet Etiquette, E-Diplomacy and How Languages of Peace Evolve

Online, English has become a common language for users from around the world. In the process, the language itself is changing.
When America emerged from the ashes of a bruising war with Britain in 1814, the nation was far from united. Noah Webster thought that a common language would bring people together and help create a new identity that would make the country truly independent of the British.

Webster's dictionary, now in its 11th edition, adopted the Americanised spellings familiar today - er instead of re in theatre, dropping the 'u' from colour, and losing the double 'l' from words such as traveller. It also documented new words that were uniquely American such as skunk, opossum, hickory, squash and chowder.

An American Dictionary of the English Language took 18 years to complete and Webster learned 26 other languages in order to research the etymology of its 70,000 entries. The internet is creating a similar language evolution, but at a much faster pace.

"E-diplomacy: Foreign policy in 140 characters ~ The diplomatic world is considered to be one of protocol and discretion, yet an increasing number of foreign policy officials and diplomats are conducting their business in the most public way possible, on Twitter." BBC News Magazine

Just like the rest of the world, diplomats tweet about their dinner...  E-diplomacy certainly carries risks. Even experienced practitioners, like the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, have run into trouble. Ahead of 2012's World Economic Forum in Davos, he drew criticism for what many thought was an insensitive missive:
"Leaving Stockholm and heading for Davos. Looking forward to World Food Program dinner tonight. Global hunger is an urgent issue! #davos."
Hunger and a slap-up meal did not sit happily side by side. In the argot of the Ttwittersphere, the tweet was judged a #fail." 
BBC News Magazine
There are now thought to be some 4.5 billion web pages worldwide. And with half the population of China now on line, many of them are written in Chinese.  Still, some linguists predict that within 10 years English will dominate the internet - but in forms very different to what we accept and recognise as English today.

That's because people who speak English as a second language already outnumber native speakers. And increasingly they use it to communicate with other non-native speakers, particularly on the internet where less attention is paid to grammar and spelling and users don't have to worry about their accent.

British diplomats posted to India will first need to learn Hindi as 'Hinglish' – a blend of Hindi and English – becomes the country's most important language. The rise of Hinglish has frustrated British diplomats as it has become more widely used on India's English language television news channels and in the country's English press.The move comes as the unique nature of Indian English is celebrated in the hit Bollywood film English Vinglish, starring veteran actress Sri Devi, about an Indian middle-class housewife who decides to learn English because she is ridiculed by her husband and child who is ashamed to introduce her to her friends. While English is no longer the exclusive language of choice for India's business elites, it is still a badge of status and a passport to better jobs.
"The internet enfranchises people who are not native speakers to use English in significant and meaningful ways," says Naomi Baron, professor of linguistics at American University in Washington D.C.

In 2012, just one in 40 British diplomats was fluent in the language of the country where they worked, with the majority lacking even basic grasp sufficient for day-to-day exchanges. In contrast, almost a half of Australia’s diplomatic service were proficient in the local languages where they worked.

Users of Facebook already socialise in a number of different "Englishes" including Indian English, or Hinglish, Spanglish (Spanish English) and Konglish (Korean English). While these variations have long existed within individual cultures, they're now expanding and comingling online.

"On the internet, all that matters is that people can communicate - nobody has a right to tell them what the language should be," says Baron. "If you can talk Facebook into putting up pages, you have a language that has political and social standing even if it doesn't have much in the way of linguistic uniqueness."

Some words are adaptations of traditional English: In Singlish, or Singaporean English, "blur" means "confused" or "slow": "She came into the conversation late and was blur as a result."  Others combine English words to make something new. In Konglish, "skinship" means intimate physical contact: handholding, touching, caressing.

Technology companies are tapping into the new English variations with products aimed at enabling users to add words that are not already in the English dictionary.  And most large companies have English websites, while smaller businesses are learning that they need a common language - English - to reach global customers.

"While most people don't speak English as their first language, there is a special commercial and social role for English driven by modern forms of entertainment," says Robert Munro, a computational linguist and head of Idibon, a language technology company in California.

"The prevalence of English movies in regions where there is not much technology other than cell phones and DVDs makes English an aspirational language. People think it's the language of the digital age."

In previous centuries, the convergence of cultures and trade led to the emergence of pidgin - a streamlined system of communication that has simple grammatical structure, says Michael Ullman, director of research at Georgetown University's Brain and Language Lab.

When the next generation of pidgin speakers begins to add vocabulary and grammar, it becomes a distinct Creole language. "You get different endings, it's more complex and systematised. Something like that could be happening to English on the web," he says. Mobile phone companies are also updating their apps to reflect its growing use.

Hinglish is a blend of Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and English and is so widespread that it's even being taught to British diplomats.  "Most people actually speak multiple languages - it's less common to only speak one," says Mr Munro. "English has taken its place as the world's lingua franca, but it's not pushing out other languages."
In Hinglish, a co-brother is a brother-in-law; eve-teasing means sexual harassment; an emergency crew responding to a crisis might be described as 'airdashing', and somewhat confusing to football fans, a 'stadium' refers to a bald man with a fringe of hair. There's even a new concept of time - "pre-pone", the opposite of postpone, meaning "to bring something forward".

The increasing prevalence of the internet in everyday life means that language online is not a zero sum game. Instead, it allows multiple languages to flourish. "Most people actually speak multiple languages - it's less common to only speak one," says Mr Munro. "English has taken its place as the world's lingua franca, but it's not pushing out other languages." Instead, other languages are pushing their way into English, and in the process creating something new.

Sources Telegraph News and BBC Magazine

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Etiquette ~ Wedding Customs and Costumes

French fashion for the American bride - "Les modes parisiennes: Peterson's magazine. October, 1886." 
"Wedding cakes have played a role in British marriage ceremonies since medieval times. They used to be made of wheat, a symbol of fertility. Stories suggest that they were thrown at brides, or broken up over their heads.  Tiered wedding cakes first became popular amongst royalty and nobility in the 1600s. To stop them from drying, they used to be stored in lard, which was scraped off when it was time for them to be eaten. Later, sugar was added to the lard to make it taste better and it was left on the cake.  Icing as we know it emerged in Victorian times. The whiter the cake, the richer the bride's family was seen to be. This is because the finely refined sugar needed to make a lighter mixture was more expensive."

The Amish continue the tradition of giving brides and grooms a quilt in the 'double ring' or 'bridal' pattern.

Irish brides and grooms were said to be brought good luck if the sun shone on the bride on the day of the wedding, or if they heard a cuckoo, or if they saw three magpies.

Picturesque Holland : newly wedded couples returning from church at Edam.
A Dutch promise of marriage involved a groom-to-be exchanging a pledge with a bride, using a ring or coin.  The Dutch are credited with the invention of bridal showers.  If a Dutch bride's father didn't approve of groom, he gave no dowry.  To compensate, friends showered her with gifts.

1881 depiction of a German wedding procession
German guests at weddings broke special plates. Pieces 'paid' for dances with the bride while the groom swept the pieces up.

Austrian brides avoid white and red flowers for weddings. A superstition exists that the colors mean bandages and blood.  Unlucky was Austrian bride who had to make her own wedding gown and unlucky the groom too, if he saw her in it, prior to nuptials.
1887 depiction of the French Bride and Groom
A prospective Portuguese bride pretended to be a cow who needed to be recognized by its owner, or soon-to-be husband.

Ukranian brides and grooms made a ritual tree, or hiltse, for the wedding table on the Friday night before they wed.

In Lithuania, brides and grooms are given a meal of wine, bread and salt ~ symbolic of joy, sweat and tears.
Mrs. Edsel B. Ford's bridal party, 1916
In Scotland and Wales, a 'love spoon' was carved from wood by a groom for a bride.  Some now give a silver spoon.  Also in Wales, bridal bouquets included symbol of love, myrtle. Bridesmaids each got a cutting to plant for luck in love.  And many a Scottish bride-to-be was blackened with treacle and soot, ensuring she'd look much prettier on the wedding day.
The Princess of Wales, Alexandra of Denmark, and her bridesmaids, in 1863
If a Danish bride is out of the reception room, female guests may kiss the groom on the cheek and vice versa.

Mongolian brides and grooms killed a chicken together and then would inspect the livers for any good omens.
"An International Marriage" from House Beautiful, early 1900's
In Argentina the mother of groom and the father of the bride stand next to them both throughout the ceremony.

Kuwaiti brides and grooms were chosen from relatives and matchmakers were hired if no ideal relative was found.
A Dinka bridegroom from the Sudan, "bargaining for the bridal ornaments" in 1931
A Nigerian groom’s family 'paid' a bride 'price.' Traditionally this consisted of shoes, bags, clothes and jewelry.

 Photograph of a Japanese bride who has been taken to her husband's house followed by her relatives and friends in nuptial procession.
The Japanese bride's furnishings were removed from her home and taken to the groom's home, the day before a wedding.

In Japan a groom gave his bride a kimono to wear on a ceremonial visit to his parents on third day of marriage.

A Korean bride and groom in 1920
For brides and grooms in Korea, blue and red are important colors, symbols of yin and yang uniting in harmony.

As early as 4000BC, Jewish grooms deposited money as a type of escrow for brides, as 'divorce insurance'.
1898 depiction of a Russian peasant bride from 1800's.
Russian brides and grooms traditionally wed in autumn.  Summer work was over, barns were full, and the new couples were prepared for long winter. 

A ceremonial purifying milk bath before ritual henna painting of bride's feet and hands is a a Moroccan custom. 

Spanish brides chose orange blossoms, symbols of happiness and fulfillment. Trees both blossom and bear fruit. Spanish brides wore black silk wedding dresses and black lace veils. Grooms wore embroidered shirts that their brides had made for them.

The Romanian bride and groom were showered with candy and nuts by their guests. This symbolized prosperity.
The queen of the Belgians in her wedding dress, 1832
An Indian bride and groom are showered with flower petals by the groom's brother at the end of the ceremony.

The newly married bride and groom of Bermuda planted a tree, symbolizing their union and their love.
Depiction of an ancient Roman wedding procession and foot washing from 1784
A Roman groom led a procession to a bride's home and she was escorted by her bridesmaids to greet him.  The Roman bride wore a white tunic with a Knot-Of-Hercules belt. Orange wedding shoes and a veil were very fashionable for the elite Roman brides.  The superstition of tripping over the threshold of one's new home comes from the Roman Empire.  Groom's were very cautious not to trip, and they carried their brides over to ensure that their new bride didn't trip either.
Wedding costume at Setesdal, Norway, 1859
Weddings were the most festive occasions in Norwegian country life, and in some parts the feast extended over two or three days.

The Czech bride wore a wreath of rosemary to symbolize wisdom, loyalty and love.
Depiction of an Armenian marriage procession
Depiction of the Armenian bride, 1862
In Armenia a groom's family brought gifts to bride’s family the night before.  These traditionally included a veil, her shoes and more.

In Italy, male guests of the bride and groom were given cigars, female guests were given candied almonds.  In parts of Italy, the groom's tie would be cut up in pieces and auctioned off to all of the guests.
1868 depiction of a Chinese wedding ceremony.
On the third day of marriage, a Chinese bride and groom returned to the bride's parents' home for a dinner party with their relatives.
Wedding in a Swedish church. Painting from mid-1800's.
A Swedish bride's bouquet was made of flowers with strongest scents to ward off trolls and other evil creatures.

A Brazilian bride placed her shoes in the dance floor's center. Guests placed donations in them for the newlyweds.
1881 depiction of the Malay bride on her honeymoon night
Swiss bridesmaids would sell colorful handkerchiefs to guests. All of the money went to the bride and groom.

Maoris of New Zealand still include a powhiri, or welcome, conducted by a tribal elder and the couple is blessed. 
French bridal fashions from 1834 
French couples gave wedding guests 5 dragées (candy), symbolizing health, wealth, happiness, longevity and fertility.

The Turkish bride depicted from behind.
Explanation of the Turkish bride in her wedding dress, and the rituals performed prior to the wedding.
A Filipino groom's family gave the bride and groom the gift of old coins, as symbols of future prosperity.

Pairs of padrinos and madrinos (Godparents), help brides and and grooms with each part of Hispanic weddings.
1863 depiction of a bridal costume from 1770's France

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Retro Etiquette from "The Lady"

Known as England's longest running weekly magazine for women, "The Lady" has been in continuous publication since 1885 

"WHEN an intelligent woman makes up her mind to accomplish a thing, there are very few deeds which she cannot achieve."
The Lady. A Boarding-House for Ladies. 19th February, 1891

“SOUP must be served in cups to guests before they leave, a custom that is very much appreciated in cold weather”
The Lady. Etiquette. 11th November 1909

"IT is easy to miss the best answer to a problem when a good,but inferior, option presents itself."
The Lady. A Tempting Diversion. 23rd September, 1965

“PUTTING the bed into the right place is about as troublesome as placing a piano in a small room. At any cost don’t let the bed face the window! A third of life is spent in sleep, and whether you are well or ill that glaring mistake spells discomfort.”
The Lady. And So to Bed 23rd September, 1948

“IN most romantic fiction the monosyllabic hero is regarded with considerable approval, as though being tongue-tied was a special virtue. But in real life, particularly in marriage, the truly reticent male can drive any wife crazy. Matrimonial bliss can be ruined by a silent husband.”
The Lady. Silent Isn’t Golden To Me 26th September 1968

"TRUE hospitality means the doing and giving – freely and heartily – the best you can, and of the best you have."
The Lady. Entertaining. 11th August, 1898

“THE average man seems incapable of discerning when a woman is good and charming and eminently suitable as a wife.”
The Lady. Marrying Families. 25th July, 1912

“IN the feverish search for happiness we are apt to overlook the beautiful commonplaces of life – friends, books, music, the “sweet charities” of family life, sunshine and warmth.”
The Lady. The Triumph of the Ordinary. 25th July, 1912

"IT is far better to have things well done, no matter how simple they may be, than to have much show and little comfort.
The Lady magazine. Talks on etiquette 7th May, 1914

"AS a general rule, one’s stern duty in life seems to be to avoid the things in life that are pleasant, especially in the matter of diet."
The Lady. Living Well. 16th August, 1928

“LOVE is not always a reliable basis for a life-long companionship. It is well known that there is a tendency in human nature to love precisely where love is certain to bring misery.” The Lady. Far and Near. 19th August, 1909

“‘THE World’ expresses regret that there is a tendency to make the dinner-hour later and later. Long dinners are wearisome and one would not wish them revived.” The Lady. Far and Near. 13th August, 1903

"THE woman who is always on her doorstep gossiping with her neighbour does not, as a rule, keep her house clean.” The Lady. The Gossip of Women. 27th August, 1908

"EVEN in a house where there are more than two people, and a good deal of outside work to be done, one can be perfectly content and happy without a servant (to say nothing of the saving), only all must pull together, and everyone give a hand at times." The Lady. Comfort Without A Servant. 22nd July, 1915

"THE secret of the successful "little" dinner is that all the people present belong to the same clique: if an outsider is present he or she must have some special brilliance." The Lady. Dinners Up-To-Date. 22nd July 1920

"IT is quite clear that the art of living is to take things as they come, and to thankful for any mercies that may be granted. So many good things in life are taken as a matter of course." The Lady. Our Negative Blessings. 22nd July, 1920

"THERE are many good chances wasted by lack of promptness and businesslike habits, also by the inability to take up new ideas.’ The Lady. How to Live. 20th August, 1903

A more recent cover, from 2012. The magazine got a makeover in 2009: "It was set up "to deal with the many subjects in which Ladies are interested, in a manner at once fully and completely, yet not tiresome: to provide information without dullness and entertainment without vulgarity..." Providing entertainment without vulgarity is still the magazine's mission for its 30,000 subscribers. The vicissitudes of hen keeping, rather than rock chicks, worry readers. And thank goodness for that, says Marie-Helene Ferguson, founder of the London School of Etiquette. 'I think it's quite refreshing and is an oasis - as a woman you can feel pressured with magazines, so I don't read them anymore. It's 'Gucci this week, Prada the next' - you end up feeling inadequate.'" BBC Today

"THERE is a good deal of truth in the theory that the world is only too ready to esteem people as they esteem themselves, to "take them at their own valuation," as we say."
The Lady. Musical Notes. 30th September, 1926

“LEISURE is a secret vice, a treasure to be fought for and planned for as ruthlessly as any first baby”

The Lady. On Being A Governess: A Lost Joy. 4th February 1932

"BECOME a good cook before you marry, darling. Then you will be competent to rebuke a staff of domestics or to dispense with one."
The Lady. The New Riviera. 22nd December 1927

“SOUL-SEARCHING and soul-pulling form the chief subject of conversation among even comparative strangers who meet across a dinner table or in a country house… The privacy of life is almost abolished.”
The Lady. More About Women. 16th January, 1890

"WOMEN attend meetings and read newspapers in ever-increasing numbers. It should be considered impolite nowadays for a man to address himself to men only."
The Lady. Far And Near. 22nd December, 1927

"IN one case in a thousand a woman may be right to make the proposal. That case is the one where the woman’s worldly possessions make the man who loves her shy of taking the usual course. One can think of no other position in which the Leap Year license should be used."The Lady. Far and Near. 25th February, 1904‘

ONE always introduces the less important to the more important person.’ The Lady. Correspondence-Etiquette. 24th December, 1931

"IF love reigned supreme the earth would always be calm and happy. It is only when hatred and its attendant evils, envy and strife, creep in that the world is not the beautiful sunny place it was intended to be." The Lady, The Message Of The Snowflakes, 22nd December, 1927

"EMBRACE as many friends as possible beneath the mistletoe, for those who kiss beneath the Christmas mistletoe will never quarrel." The Lady. Customs And Superstitions: Old And New. 22nd December, 1927

“EAT mince pies in as many different houses as possible during the Christmas season, for, according to the number of houses, so will you have as many weeks of good luck during the coming year.” The Lady. Customs And Superstitions: Old And New. 22nd December, 1927

"WHEN only one servant is kept, it is wisest to to have one of experience, and give very good wages to her." The Lady. The Duties of Servants. 24th February, 1911

"NOTHING is commonplace; everything is wonderful, and everything interesting, if only we knew it." The Lady. The Plums of Life. 24th February, 1910

"THE thrifty housewife has initiative. She possesses the gift of management, a gift denoting cleverness, character and originality." The Lady. The Virtue of Thrift. 18th January, 1906

"TO work in a kitchen where there is "no room to turn round" and "nowhere to put anything" is trying to the nerves and productive of breakages." The Lady. The Cupboard Kitchen. 18th January, 1934

"NOTHING could be more dangerous to happy marriage than the general assumption that it is an affair of trial and error. Husbands and wives who believe that they are married 'till death do us part' are much more likely to settle their differences and make allowances for one another's faults than those who, ever critical, have the idea of divorce always in their mind." The Lady. The Children's View. 22nd February, 1951.

"It is very necessary that every girl should really understand the art of making a bed well and comfortably. To know that one's bed is sure to be clean and properly made, makes us more than ready to follow the wise maxim which teaches that to go to bed early is to be "healthy, wealthy and wise." The Lady. The Art of Making Beds. 22 January, 1903

"DO not worry; and do not think things over too much. Above all, cheer up and fight against the temptation to be downhearted." The Lady. The Best Advice When Everything is Upside Down. 23rd November, 1922

"YOU should not when you pay afternoon calls take your dog with you, even if he is a "perfect darling" and always obeys your orders to lie down quietly." The Lady. Letters to dot from Lady Clare. 4th January 1917

"MANNERS do matter! They matter tremendously in every-day life. When two men or women are equal in ability in business it is their manner that decides which of them shall be promoted. Social success depends upon "manners" controlled by the brain." The Lady. Manners Do Matter. 12th December, 1929

"Many people commit social solecisms through the mistaken idea of good manners. One such mistaken idea of good manners is to gush over children, pet animals, dresses, or any possessions of others." The Lady. Society solecisms. 3rd September, 1903

"THE plain fact that the bachelor girl is merely a single women of small means pursuing an art or earning her living is known but ignored by a delusion-loving world, which insists on putting her condition as a happy blend of gaiety, freedom and romance." The Lady. The Emancipated Girl. 3rd September, 1893

“WHEN setting a luncheon, beakers for drink instead of tumblers will appeal to those with maids who are congenitally unable to polish glass.” The Lady. Breakfast, Luncheon, Tea and Dinner. 14th November 1929.

“SOMEONE has discovered that little women have strong wills and that big ones are yielding. He says that “The little helpless thing” is the most formidable creature in the world, certain to defeat the man in every encounter.” The Lady. Untrained daughters. 25th May 1899

"FOR those who only keep one servant there are three forms of entertaining – luncheons and teas for single ladies, and suppers for those who are married." The Lady. How to entertain. 25th May 1899

“IT is the doing of little things correctly that shows whether people are used or not used to the ways of society. It is the wife not the husband who has to keep up and extend their circle of friends and acquaintances, and it is her influence or popularity that may make or mar his career socially. The Lady. Chats on Etiquette. 21st July, 1898

“IN losing respect for their parents, a good many young people seem to have lost respect for themselves. Indeed, they seem unable to respect anything at all.” The Lady. Modern Family Life. 5th August 1926

“EVERYONE wants companionship of some sort, and misses it if withheld; especially is this the case with young people. None of us were intended by Nature to live alone, and youth in particular requires – I might say craves – for brightness and amusement.” The Lady. The Bachelor Girl by Lady Clare. 7th July 1904

“LADIES do not call upon gentlemen. If you wish to further the acquaintance, you can show him any hospitality you like. It would be quite correct for you to invite him either to luncheon, tea or dinner.” The Lady. Etiquette. 14th July 1904

"THE housewife who does her own cooking, and yet who desires time for other interests, will find "cooking mornings" a practical and time-saving proposition. The one who never looks ahead, but does her cooking meal by meal, necessarily spends much time in the kitchen. A good housewife will think ahead, and set aside two or three mornings a week when she will cook for that day, and will also wholly or partially prepare dishes for several days ahead." The Lady. A Cooking Morning. 7th March, 1935

“Selfishness and real love cannot co-exist because the first desire of such love is for the happiness and well-being of its object.” The Lady. The Right Handle. 15th June 1911

"Self-sacrifice can be the chief curse of family life, because few of us are really angelic enough either to accept or give self-sacrifice without resentment." The Lady. With Prejudice. 26th June 1930

“Hesitation is usually fatal, and it is therefore advisable to adopt one definite rule and keep to it.” The Lady. The Lady and Her Car: Acquiring the Road Sense. 27th December, 1928

“A well-developed body is in no way inconsistent with a refined nature, and the girl who plays hockey and golf may be quite as womanly as the girl who spends her days over an embroidery frame.” The Lady. A Plea For The Modern Woman. 24th April, 1902

"A girl should be polite and courteous to everyone with whom she may come in contact, but if she is wise she will not become intimate with anyone until she knows something of their character, for the bachelor girl has, being alone, to walk warily and keep closely to the straight path of everyday duties." The Lady. The Bachelor Girl. 7th July, 1904

“When planning the party games, it is important not to give the impression that you are working through a set programme. It is quite true that you must think out beforehand what games and stunts will be included, but you want no hint of formality.” The Lady. Making the children’s party. 12th December 1929

"Women hate the housework more than men do. This is not surprising for the cottage housewife has usually enjoyed a greater sense of possession than her husband ever had the chance to develop, while, on the other hand, he among workmates and at the inn or the crossroads, has developed an easier social habit than she has." The Lady. Housing the old. 19th December, 1935

"Many argue that a soft collar means a soft virtue but because the young of to-day have different tastes is no reason to suppose these tastes are "immoral". Tastes are tastes, and we all have a right to our own." The Lady, Far and near. 18th August, 1921

"Some of us have realised, with a qualm, that the best intentions in the world without labour would not be worth very much." The Lady Women and War Service 19th August, 1915

“It is not enough to have, or to be, a first-rate cook at the stove itself, to ensure a really first-rate meal. Often a perfectly good dinner is spoiled by a slovenly service.” The Lady. Makes the most of her work. 20th June, 1946

"It is characteristic of human nature – at any rate, of human nature in the British Isles – to be sensitive about its nomenclature. Nothing is more infuriating to many of us than to be called by wrong names, or to have our letters addressed inaccurately." The Lady. Far and Near. August 1915

“The reading of fiction, not long ago thought deplorable by nearly all social workers, is now becoming almost a virtue.” The Lady. Good marks for the Novel. 23rd of April. 1936

"WHAT would be the effect of, say, five years without Hollywood? Would young women become more poetic and less hard-boiled? The Lady. Going Our Own Way. 21st February, 1946

“The power of suggestion is potent. We ourselves know that. We feel better at once if we are greeted by a cheerful friend who remarks how well we are looking.” The Lady. The Power of Suggestion. 23rd May, 1929

“DO not give a friendly nod to a slight acquaintance, nor a distant bow to a friend. If you receive a bow, even should it be made in error, return it politely, not with a mere look of surprise, which is sure to make the one who bowed feel uncomfortable.” The Lady. Some Minor Unwritten Social Laws. 18th July, 1912

“ALL fine qualities are made better for a dash of good sense.” The Lady. Far and near. 24th April, 1913

“A GRACEFUL walk is a great asset, for sometimes it can create an illusion of beauty where little exists.” The Lady. Pleasant Exercises for Grace. 2nd April 1931

"PARTIES are more enjoyable as a habit than as a very occasional relaxation. The unaccustomed social mouse, stricken with envy and admiration of what she supposes to be the dazzling wit of accustomed party-goers, might often be comforted by the discovery that these shining ones are talking chiefly of the previous party or the one to follow." The Lady. With Prejudice. 5th January, 1933 

"IT is an openly-proclaimed fact that men do not like paying calls; it bores them to do so, and they hate afternoon teas...” The Lady. Why, and why not, L.A.A. 20th November 1924

Written by Katy Pearson ~ Originally printed online at

Monday, May 26, 2014

More Vintage Airline and 'Jet-Age' Etiquette

"Until the early nineteenth century, napkins were dipped into finger bowls and then used to wipe mouths and chins at the end of dinner; the subsequent repression of this habit is a reminder to us how very neatly and carefully we now cut up our food and place it into our mouths. The comfort value of a final wiping on the face, however, is not underrated by airline companies, which arrange for damp wiping cloths, heated and ceremonially handed to us with tongs, to be provided either before or after meals. Childhood memories probably survive in us of mothers cleaning us up after eating. Providing hot rough cloths for wiping hands and faces is a traditional Chinese custom." Margaret Visser, "The Rituals of Dinner", 1991

Plane Travel

General rules of courtesy while traveling on an airplane are of course the same as those which prevail for train or any other travel but there are some circumstances and customs connected with air travel to different from those met elsewhere. It is well to be familiar with these in order to conduct yourself properly when confronted by then for the first time.
Do not take more luggage with you than you need.


Make your reservation well before the time of your trip. Be sure that you understand clearly the number of the flight, the time it leaves the airport, the time you are expected to be at the airport (usually about a half an hour before the time the flight leaves), and the time the limousine leaves the city terminal to take you to the airport for your flight. The charge for taking you to the airport is not included in the price of your ticket. You may, if you choose be driven to the airport in the family car or in a taxi, in which case see that you get there by the time specified. The charge for the limousine, usually about a dollar, will in most cases be less than taxi fare.
Show your good manners and don't be a "no-show"!  Taking the airport limousine only cost about a buck.
If having made your reservation, you find that you cannot make the trip, cancel the reservation as early as you can so that if the company has a waiting list of applicants for that flight (as they sometimes do) one of them may be notified in time to make arrangements. Do not be what the airlines call a "no show"; that is, one who simply does not show up for the flight after having bought a ticket.  Some airlines charge a premium in such cases when returning the fare or transferring you to another flight, but whether they do or not, you may have seriously inconvenienced someone else who might have occupied the seat which you left vacant.


Do not take more luggage with you than you need, and if you do, do not complain about the rather high excess baggage charges that will be levied. There is a limit to the amount of weight a plane can carry. The excess baggage charges are consciously set high to discourage individual passengers from taking, with their baggage, more than their share. Your baggage will be weighed at the air terminal in the city or at the airport, at whichever you check in, and you will be told there is an excess. On most lines you are permitted to take about forty pounds free, though on some reduced rate flights the allowance is less.
These foxy stewardesses from the 1960s made air travel far more fun for the male business clientele.

On some flights there are no specific seat assignments as there are on Pullman cars. In this case your ticket and titles you to a seat, and no standing room, of course, is ever sold, but you will select your own seat from among those that are vacant when you board the plane. If, however you choose one that has a card reading "Occupied," go on to another. The card means that someone has already chosen that seat and has left it temporarily.

The Stewardess
Pretty Groovy, Mod Airline Hostesses, Circa 1968-1970
You will be met at the door of the plane as you enter by a stewardess, or perhaps two. Many planes carry a notice telling you the names of your stewardesses, in which case use them.  Otherwise, the proper form of address is "Stewardess" -- not "Miss."

The job of the stewardess, for which she is well trained, is complex.  She will take your overcoat (if you have one) and hat, and any other impedimenta, and check them during the flight.  When on taking off and landing, or in exceptionally rough weather, the flashing sign tells you to fasten your seatbelt, she will check to see that all passengers have done so, and will help you to do so if you need assistance. She will serve your meals, the price of which, incidentally, is included in the price of your ticket on all but some tourist flights. If you are ill you will find that she has a supply of simple, often used medicine.
We bet Pat Boone and his family obeyed all of the etiquette rules and instructions in-flight. Most likely, all eyes were on them throughout their flight, what with those matching ensembles.
Some stewardesses are trained nurses. All have been given instructions in meeting the emergencies a simple illnesses and First Aid. If you are on a night flight, she will bring you a pillow and a blanket, and if you are fortunate enough to have an unoccupied seat next to you, she will probably remove the removable armrest that separates your seat from that next to you so that you may stretch out more comfortably. She is one of the prime reasons why your trip is likely to be comfortable and pleasant. She is deserving of the highest respect and the most courteous treatment.

Seat Belt and Smoking

Holy smokes... This flight attendant was lighting someone's cigar!  
When the lighted sign forbids smoking and instruct you to fasten your seatbelt, obey it promptly. If you wish to smoke after the lighted sign has been turned off, that is, when the plane is in the air, do so, if you smoke cigarettes. On most planes you are asked not to smoke a pipe or cigars, since they are offensive in close spaces to many people.
From Eleanor Roosevelt's "Common Sense Book of Etiquette" 1962

Changes in Dining Onboard and In-Flight

 A "proper" tea was once served, free of charge on flights, but one had to watch out for that pesky turbulence!  
"An airline dinner is a useful device to keep passengers pinned to their places and occupied for an appreciable length of time. People hurtling through the air in a metal tube, both uneasily aware of what could go wrong and stupefied with boredom, are deemed to require solace. Eating is comfort -- provided that nothing untoward or unexpected occurs during dinner. In the early days of air travel, until the early thirties, travelers ate at tables set out in the plane, as in a restaurant. There were wine bottles, flowers, cloths on the tables, and male stewards (then called couriers) in white jackets, serving the meals. The shuddering and dipping of the aircraft caused spills, and the noise was so infernal that conversation had often to be carried on by means of written notes -- but still things were done "properly," which is to say as far as possible as they were done on earth.
Things were still done "properly" the way they were on earth.
The first passenger aircraft in service after World War II fitted people into planes as though they were in a bus; airline management had realized that the future lay in cutting corners, increasing the numbers on board, and relying on the prestige of technology to make up for any loss in luxury. The gamble paid off. The new air travelers packed themselves into small spaces with a sense of fun, awe, and excitement. At first, seats were reversible so that passengers could turn them around and sit facing each other for meals; soon even that kind of encouragement to companionship was denied. But a three-course dinner with a hot meat component is still provided for everybody (except those who exempt themselves on health or vegetarian grounds), whether they are ready to eat or not, on the foldout flap which anchors us to our places while dinner is served.
Ummm... Yum? A typical 3-course 1990's in-flight dinner ~ "Manners, here, impose passivity and constraint; ornamentation is taken taken care of by the oddity of our being served dinner at all in such circumstances.... Airline passengers are extraordinarily docile and uncomplaining ... grateful for safety." 
No effort is spared to impress upon us that we might be cramped and uncomfortable, but we are certainly experiencing a technological miracle. A tray is usually the receptacle for dinner, with pre-moulded compartments or fitted containers keeping every course separate. The separateness is spatial, not sequential: an airline meal is one course of a tiny dinner (à la français). There will be cellophane coverings and plastic lids (we are hygienic, we are safe) and cutlery, pepper, salt, and paper napkin in a neat bundle. Until air travel became entirely banal, people used to save their little plastic knives, their mustard packets, and swizzle sticks stamped with airplane motifs, as souvenirs; they were familiar objects, but small and sufficiently odd-looking to remind us of those strange meals aloft, and approved others that we had been there. The knife, for instance, often has an almost triangular blade: it's bizarre shape looks convincingly modern, but it is actually designed so that we can eat with elbows so tightly compressed to our sides that the blade must descend almost vertically upon the meat. Nobody with any sense would eat the hors d'oeuvres of an airplane meal first. They are almost always cold, and the heated meat and two vegetables will cool off in a matter of minutes. We therefore attack the main course first, then rip open the hors d'oeuvres, toy with the stiff lettuce (most of us leave this "entremets" uneaten), then attempt the block of cake.

For the higher price of their tickets, first class and "business" class passengers get better food as well as wider seats. In their anxiety to please their richer customers, and to mark as clearly as possible the difference between them and the mere "economy" or "coach" class, airlines spend as much as four times the amount on meals for the well-heeled in their curtained-off enclosure upfront as for those in more straitened circumstances behind. In North America food service is becoming an important selling point on aircraft, now that the few airline companies which are left have agreed among themselves to refrain from the turbulence that used to be caused by competitive fare cuts. So more imagination is being tried when compiling menus, china and metal cutlery are increasingly supplied, and meals, especially in the upper class, may even be served in courses ( à la russe).
Another hip, mod, airline hostess from the late 1960's ~ New air travelers packed themselves into small spaces with a sense of fun, awe, and excitement!

The "companions" close to our sides (we face other people's backs) are likely to be strangers. Meals are provided in strict accustomed sequence: breakfast, lunch, dinner, with "proper" tea-breaks and drinks, in spite of time changes, and regardless of the fact that eating events may take place with very short periods of sedentary time between them. An airline meal is not large: who would expect a large meal in our cabined and confined state? But it is invariably complete, and as complex as possible. It tries to carry all the connotations of a shared, comforting, "proper" dinner. It is supposed to supply a nostalgic link with the cultural presuppositions with which flying conflicts, such as warm kitchens, stable conditions, and the products of the earth. Manners, here, impose passivity and constraint; ornamentation is taken taken care of by the oddity of our being served dinner at all in such circumstances. There is no question of argument, and only very limited choice. Airline passengers are extraordinarily docile and uncomplaining. They give up space and ceremony, believing that this is only fair since they are gaining time and ought to be grateful for safety."  Margaret Visser, "The Rituals of Dinner" 1991