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Where Are You From?

Dealing with annoying questions.

By
Trent Armstrong,
January 26, 2009

Page 1 of 3

You're not from around these parts, are you? I noticed that you talk a little funny, and, well, I thought I would bring it up to make us all uncomfortable.

You Sound Funny

The other day my friend Tatiana sent me an email that I thought might enjoy a little attention. She writes:

Hello Modern Manners Guy, I was born and raised in Russia, but have been living and working in the U.S. for 10 years. I am continuously asked the question “Where are you from?”  When I simply reply “from Russia.” I often hear “Welcome to United Sates!” or worse a discussion about vodka or other stereotypes.

How could I politely avoid answering this question or, in general, any other questions that I do not want to answer. I’m proud of myself but sometimes I just don't want to be involved in this type of dialog. I have lived in New York City for eight years. Would it be okay next time to say that I’m from New York?

I believe many non-Americans who are listening to this podcast will appreciate your advice, and many local folks will stop asking this question.

Defending the Offender

Thank you for the email, Tatiana, but first, let me quickly defend the offender.  A few times a week I run into folks who speak differently from me.  Sometimes that means they are from Minnesota and sometimes it means they are from Morocco, but every time I am very interested in where they are from since I like to travel and really enjoy the different accents of the world.  Sometimes I even know how to respond with a few words in their language. Or I might think I can place the accent and want to see if I'm right. So my bias is to ask you to indulge the questioner unless he or she becomes a nuisance.

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