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Word of the Day: Etiquette

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by Danna Martinez

The behavior of the human being, acclaimed by some, criticized by others, but finally understood as an object of study in society. The change in the social context, time, trends, political and religious ideologies, innovations, among many others, has managed to generate an impact on the subject’s social actions. Still, even with thousands of influences, there is a special regulation of which many people have taken over, and it has not gone down in history. Yes, it is about etiquette, which guides and leads what we think would be the most simple movement. It covers topics such as Ceremonies of life, dress, manners, home entertaining, household management, correspondence, family and children’s social education, public life, and travel etiquette.

According to The Online Etymology Dictionary, the word etiquette’s origin goes back to 1750, from the French étiquette “prescribed behavior” to the old French estiquette “label, ticket.” It comes from written or printed cards with instructions on how to behave correctly in court (compare Italian etichetta, Spanish etiquette) and/or from behavior instructions written on a soldier’s ticket for accommodation.

The rules of social etiquette in each community go beyond manners. Behind the label are social relationships, the way people act, and the reason why they work. The etiquette is projected to encompass the infinite supply of behaviors in society.

Etiquette has expanded to different social areas with rules and customs that allow people to function adequately in the various situations they face every day. When advice or a recommendation is necessary, they can often be found in the rules of etiquette. Following are excerpts from the book, A Guide to Gracious Living by Amy Vanderbilt.

  • “We used to be told that it was ill-mannered to talk about ourselves and what we were doing, but to keep social letters on a high, impersonal level is to make them dull.” Currently, the facilities that technology and scientific advances have given us have been the cause of the lack of letter writing in correspondence. Norms teach the proper format to convey the most profound emotions and make the paper reflect the real purpose of what is meant. Little aspects and details such as color, dimension, structure, design, organization, material, quality, use of words make a letter the best or the worst performance of a person. The dedication and care that goes into a written letter can, on many occasions, be better than a text message; good manners are essential in human interaction.
  • “The best-dressed women I know pay very little attention to the picayune aspects of fashion, but they have a sound understanding of style.” Clothes have to do in our life more than what people think, occasions, style, formal, informal, the way to wear a coat, a hat, a suit, there are guidelines for its correct bearing. Why not spend a moment in our time choosing the garments with which we will introduce ourselves to the world.
  • “Sportsmen have very stiff notions of what constitutes a gentleman.” Golf, tennis, badminton, yachting, hunting and shooting, skiing, and skating. Each sport has its own rules when playing and also its rules when dressing. Wearing the right clothes can save your life (for example, do not wear white in times of hunting, someone could mistake you for a deer), it can also help you not overload your body to enjoy the sport fullest, quickly and practically.
  • “People are born, are married, and, at length, after a more or less ceremonious life, die. And everywhere friends, neighbors, and relatives take cognizance of at least the major ceremonies affecting each of us.” Wedding invitations and announcements, size and style on the cards, “C” for a ceremony, “R” for a reception, and “A” for announcements. The proper use of words. A letter reflects the intentions of the person who wrote it, and what was written can be decisive in the perception and reaction letter’s recipient.

“Good manners have much to do with the emotions. To make them ring true, one must feel them, not merely exhibit them.” – Amy Vanderbilt

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