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  Posture Talks

  In the United States, where“casualness”is considereda great virtue, people often sit with feet on chairs oreven desks. They sometimes sit with their backsides( buttocks) on tables and desks as a way ofexpressing their individuality or career attitude.They feel comfortable crossing their legs and sittingwith one ankle on the other knee . Poor posture —slumping oneself over while sitting in a chair and placing feet on whatever object is around — isa common U. S. behavior. It is designed to show that the person is casual, honest, sincere,and“ just one of the folks ”. In the United States, even millionaires, corporation presidents,government leaders, and movie stars try to pretend they are ordinary people by using“the U.S. slouch ”and“ the feet-on-the -furniture”maneuver.

  Unfortunately, other countries interpret this behavior as being sloppy and as reflecting ageneral lack of alertness, interest, and respect. People from the United States do not usuallyrealize that what they regard as casualness is viewed very differently and very negatively bymany people around the world.

  People in many cultures are expected to sit erect. Such cultures include many countriesin LatinAmerica, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. In the United States, slouching is acceptable and isa positive sign of being casual and friendly. In the United States, crossing legs is a sign of goodetiquette . Many cultures say thatcrossing legs is okay, but placing the ankle on the knee whilecrossing one’s legs is totally unacceptable .

  One reason for not putting the ankle on the knee is that when you do so, one foot or the soleof the shoe is usually pointing at someone . This is a very severe insult in many countriesaround the world, especially Muslim countries. Under few circumstances should you point yourfoot at anyone , because the foot is cons idered the least sacred part of the body in manysocieties. In some countries such as Nepal, pointing the foot at a cow is an outrage , becausethe cow is a sacred animal. In Buddhist countries, pointing the foot at statue of the Buddha isa severe offense. Moving objects with the feet is very rude in Thailand, Nepal, and Taiwan. InBangladesh, you should not touch books with a foot or shoe; if you do, you must make anelaborate apology.

  As you can tell, posture is a very strong messenger. It conveys much about a particu larperson. Posture ( in many cultures) says something about the person’s honesty, alertness,intelligence, religiousness, respect, and overall decency — or the opposite of all of these !Posture tells people whether they want to get to know a stranger, and it also tells what to thinkabout the people already known.


  Translate the sentences into English with the words in parentheses :

  1. 这座纪念碑是为内战中牺牲的烈士们而建立的。( erect)

  2. 我希望他不会因为我拒绝他的邀请而觉得受到了侮辱。( insult)

  3. 他把我的沉默看作是软弱的标志。( interpret)


  1. This monument was erected in honour of the martyrs during the civil war.

  2. I hope he won’t feel insulted if I turn down his invitation.

  3. He interpreted my silence as a sign of weakness.



  在 美国, 人们坐着的时候常常把双脚放在椅子甚至桌子上, 在那里“ 不拘小节”被认为是一种优良品德。有时, 他们坐在工作台或办公桌上, 以此来表达自己的个性或职业态度。美国人坐着的时候常会两腿交叉, 他们觉得将一只脚踝放到另一条腿的膝盖上很舒服。懒散地坐在椅子上, 并将双脚随便搁在近旁的一个东西上——— 这种姿势很不雅观, 但在美国相当普遍。人们摆出这种姿势旨在表明自己的随意、诚实和真诚, 告诉别人自己是“ 一个实在人”。在美国, 即使是百万富翁、公司总裁、政府领导以及电影明星都会做出“ 美国式的懒散样子”和“ 脚放在家具上”的姿势, 借这种方式来表现自己也是一个普通人。不幸的是, 在其他国家里, 这种行为方式被视为邋遢随便, 反映了摆出这种姿势的人缺乏活力、兴趣以及对他人的尊敬。美国人往往意识不到, 他们视为不拘小节的姿势在世界上许多人的眼里却具有截然不同的、甚至十分消极的意义。许多文化认为人坐着的时候要腰板挺直。持有这种观点的国家包括拉丁美洲、亚洲、欧洲和中东的许多国家; 而在美国, 懒散的姿势是可以接受的, 是随意和友好的明确标志。在美国, 交叉双腿是有礼貌的标志, 而许多文化认为, 交叉双腿是可以的, 但在交叉双腿的时候将脚踝放到膝盖上是令人无法接受的。不能将脚踝放到膝盖上的一个原因是, 当你这样做的时候, 你的脚或鞋底通常是指向别人的。在许多国家里, 这种行为被视为是对别人的一种极大的侮辱, 特别在穆斯林国家里更是如此。你不应将脚指向任何人, 因为在许多社会里, 脚被视为身体中最不神圣的一个 部位。在尼泊尔这样的国家里, 将脚指向一头牛是一种暴行, 因为牛在那里被视为圣物。

  在佛教国家里, 将脚指向佛祖的塑像是对佛教的极大冒犯。在泰国、尼泊尔和台湾, 用脚移动物体是粗鲁的行为。在孟加拉国, 你不能用脚或鞋接触书籍。如果这样做了, 你必须要认真道歉。

  如你所知, 身体姿势能传播很多信息。在许多文化里, 姿势可以告诉人们一个人具有以下品质——— 诚实、机敏、聪明、信奉宗教、彬彬有礼、大方得体; 姿势也可能让人们知道这个人根本不具备这些美德! 身体姿势告诉人们一个人是否想跟陌生人交往, 同样也让人们了解了一个已经认识的人。


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