deird1: Dawn drinking a milkshake (Dawn milkshake)
[personal profile] deird1
A piece of random Aussie etiquette for you:

(Context: I was reading a discussion of various cultural "gifting" things, and the Aussie cup of tea came up. Was the first time I'd really thought about it.)

If you go to someone's house, for any reason that requires you staying more than about a minute, you will be offered a cup of tea or coffee. (By which I mean, they'll say "Would you like a tea or coffee?" or offer one and instantly apologise for not having the other. Never just the one.)

When this happens, there are various options at your disposal:
1) "Yes, I'd love a cup of tea."
2) "Yes, I'd love a cup of coffee."
3) "No, thank you."
4) [the hidden one that foreigners don't know about]

Options 1 and 2 are great. Option 3 will... be a problem. Most likely, your Aussie host will look a bit puzzled, and ever-so-slightly frantic, and start offering up all the miscellaneous contents of their fridge until you pick something. This is because, as with many cultural issues, there's a whole lot of subtext happening.

See, you think the conversation has happened like this:
"Would you like a tea or coffee?"
"No, thank you."


Whereas, it's actually done this:
"I am happy to be your host. Are you happy?"
"No. I am not happy. Host better."


(It's much the same as the standard "How are you?" "Good! How are you?" "Good!" exchange. Very few people are actually asking. They're just checking that you're willing to be pleasant in their direction.)

The subtextual conversation we're aiming for is:
"I am happy to be your host. Are you happy?"
"Yes, I am happy to be your guest. You're being a good host."


This will be best achieved by the aforementioned options 1 or 2, or by secret option 4. Which goes like this:
*friendly sigh* "I'd love a glass of water!"


...then, you say thanks for the water, and if you're not thirsty, you don't actually need to drink it.
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