American-Israeli Cultural Misinterpretation

*** Warning: this post might contain cultural bias material ;) ***

As most of my friends and colleagues, I had the pleasure of working with Americans for most of my professional life and this post is only the tip-of-the-iceberg trying to capture one tiny angle of the American-Israeli cultural gap.

We (Israelis) think we know enough about English since we have watched many hours of American TV, studied the language from early age and use it constantly and “fluently” during our adult professional life but we should be aware about our tendency to interpret English phrases literally, which results in amusing/frustrating/interesting/challenging misunderstandings — We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.

Executive summary:

  • Israelis consider themselves creative, direct and honest but being perceived as arrogant, stubborn, negative, rude and pushy (did I forget any other negative adjective here? ;)
  • Americans are professionals, positive, polite and showing respect but being perceived as bureaucrats, artificial and square

Few examples:

German Coastguard | “What are you s(th)inking about?”

+ Check out this linkAn American Phrase Book @ http://web.media.mit.edu/~guy/american/

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Moti Karmona

Moti Karmona

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