Pavlína Traj
Is the question "How old are you?" normal in your country?

Hello guys,

I'm surprised, how often I get the question "How old are you?" here on Italki. This question is regarded quite impolite in my country, mainly when I meet someone for the first time. I would like to know, if it is really impoliteness or a cultural difference only. Thank you for your answers!

May 4, 2018 4:08 AM
Comments · 21
It is also a little impolite where I am from to ask this when you meet someone. However, it does not bother me on this language learning platform, because we are learning to use our new languages and people may just be trying to make conversation. When your language proficiency is low, you may only know a few ways to start a conversation...Where are you from? What do you do? How old are you? Do you have kids? This is just my opinion, of course:)
May 4, 2018
In the US it is consider impolite, especially if you can tell the person is over 35-40. I think a lot of people on iTalki ask this question, because there are different formalities of speech in other languages depending on social standing and age. They might want to know if you are older than they are to simply show more respect in the future. 
May 4, 2018

In Germany it's definitely impolite, especially when it's one of the first questions that gets asked. I'm afraid this question mostly comes from people who mistake italki for a dating platform :-(.

As for a way to get out of this situation, I remember what a colleague of mine once said when asked which birthday she just celebrated: "Ladies don't get older than 34." Of course she was older than that, but she didn't want to tell us her exact age.

May 4, 2018
Italki created a double comment for me again 
May 4, 2018

@Alexandre 

" "Ladies don't get older than 34." Of course she was older than that, but she didn't want to tell us her exact age. "

I think the roots of cultural differences about age are in our philosophy of life.

In some traditional societies, aging is seen as a perfectly normal process and accepted as such. People don't feel the need to hide their age. Age can even be considered as one's assets because experience and wisdom come with it. 

In western societies where youthism is preponderant and there's some discrimination against elderly people, asking about age is therefore considered as impolite. 


May 4, 2018
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Pavlína Traj
Language Skills
Czech, English, German, Russian, Slovak
Learning Language
English, Russian