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Comparative culture

Don't be offended

The business of church • In Ireland, somebody in a shop or pub will probably ask you "are y'alright?" It might sound like an implication, but it's not. It's just a form of greeting,* and a way of asking "may I help you?"

• In the Netherlands you may get "are you tired?" It's only a polite question. It shows concern for your well-being.

• If you don't bring proper change into a Romanian shop, you may have to pay extra....

• The Germans might be concerned about what you eat....

Don't be offended.

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* "Are y'alright" can also be a way of confronting you, if you're acting the bollocks or doing something that the speaker thinks you shouldn't. Again, it means roughly "may I help you" — the tone of voice expressing one's implication.

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