Why do Americans talk so loud in public while in foreign countries?

I find it so embarrassing to see Most Americans raise their voice in public establishments in foreign countries. Do they want attentions? or just being obnoxious?


I also find it annoying for Americans to talk local people down in foreign countries.

30 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    When I first lived outside the United States I thought the exact same thing. In fact, to this day I can tell who the American tourists are abroad, because I can usually hear them from two or three blocks away. You know, conversations like " ... I know! I couldn't believe it either!" I don't know if most Americans are aware of this, but Americans tend to talk much, much louder than everyone else (in just about any setting imaginable).

    If you've never lived overseas for long periods of time (i.e. over three months) you don't really notice it that much, but once you become more acculturated to non-American society (where ever you may be) you will come to understand how loudly the majority of American tourists tend to be (vis-a-vis virtually every other nationality in existence).

    I know Americans are taught that the United States is #1, and we kick butt at just about everything imaginable (and reflexively that everyone wants to be like us) -- that just fosters a completely arrogant form of cultural centrism. An American comedian named Lewis Black did a brilliant routine a few years back where he discussed this very issue, and I think he nailed it right on the head, he said ...

    "Its only after you spend a significant amount of time overseas that you come to see your own country with new eyes. I was largely unaware of the fact that we are the only country that tells the rest of the world (on a nearly constant basis) that we are the greatest country on Earth, and that ... quite frankly ... is obnoxious. And I know its obnoxious, because if you worked in an office where there was a guy who came in everyday and said, 'I'm the greatest f#$ker in here!!! And the rest of you sniveling sh$ts would DIE without me ... ah ha ha,' I can guarantee you by the end of the week you would have killed him ..."


    You might not like what I'm saying, but its true. I'm American too, so its not like I'm xenophobic ... the majority of American tourists abroad (and this means that if there are 10 Americans in a room at least 6 of them do the same thing, par example) talk two to three times louder than the natives of the country they are visiting. I have lived outside the United States for a little over 15 years, and have lived for extended periods of time in; Brazil. Argentina, France, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and Spain. On top of that I've visited over 40 countries, so I have a rather intimate knowledge of how Americans act outside the United States, and, obviously, there are Americans who do not talk loudly, but they are rare in my experience. Usually the ones who are not annoying/ignorant are the ones who have lived outside the United States, or otherwise have a high degree of formal post-secondary education.

    The thing of it is these Americans who talk loudly aren't doing it on purpose, and are not explicitly attempting to be rude ... they talk loud because they just don't know any better. Then again there are a lot of things Americans tend to do that are rude in other countries that are done out of utter ignorance ... and lets face it ... the average American knows next to nothing about anything outside the continental 48 United States, and speaks only one language (English). A major reason why Americans are so rude is not only because they are speaking loudly, but they are speaking loudly in a foreign language (unless you're in Canada, England, Australia, et al.).

    I can remember quite vividly a restaurant I was eating at in Oslo, and a middle-aged American couple came in and started speaking (not exaggerating) three times louder than everyone else in the restaurant (bordering on yelling). It would have been fine if they wanted to eat in the restaurant and speak to each other in English, but they should have done so in a quite manner, and not drawn so much attention to themselves. And that highlights the atypical American attitude that has won us so many fans around the world ... regardless of what country we are in we act as if we are the in United States (in almost every possible way). That is VERY ANNOYING ...

    For instance, I know most of you fellow Americans couldn't tell me who Angela Merkel is, unless you could look it up on the internet. And I'd be willing to bet even less could tell me what the capital of Bolivia is. These might seem like trivial facts to most of you, but they say a great deal about how culturally aware you are.

    Here is just a short list of things Americans do in specific countries that, unless they learn local culture/manners, are being rude (albeit in ignorance).

    In Scandinavia: it is rude to talk to someone you don't know (in passing). They will think one of two things; 1) you are mentally unstable, or 2) you are drunk -- whereas in most places in the United States it is rude to not at least acknowledge a stranger in passing.

    In France: It is rude to make eye contact with someone on a train/buss/boat -- to the French this is considered flirtatious behavior, but to an American it is normal to look at people in the eyes while sitting.

    In Germany: It is rude to leave a tip for services such as a haircut, or at a restaurant. In most cases the tip is included in your bill, and leaving a tip is considered condescending (implying they are poor and need the money). In the United States it is rude to not tip for those kinds of services.

    In Brazil: It is beyond rude to physically knock on someone's door, and even if you do you use one finger and barely tap the door. Typical American custom is to get to the door and knock hard enough so the person inside can hear you. In fact, in Brazil (even if there is not a fence in front of the yard) you clap to announce your presence instead of knocking on the door.

    These are just a few examples ... there are many more.

    What Americans have to understand is that the United States is a great country, but it is not the only great country on the planet. And, if you are going to visit another country and you're not planning on speaking the local language, then speak English very discretely when you are in public. Americans don't like it when people speak a foreign language they don't understand in front of them (and even more so when its done flagrantly) ... why should what they're doing be any different just because they're speaking English (if its not the native language of the country then it is a foreign language).


    And another thing most Americans do while they are overseas is talk about how much better everything is in the United States. They will sit there and just talk very loudly in English about how "Well, in the US we do it this way ...," tacitly implying that since that is how America does it it should be how everyone does it. Wouldn't you think it was annoying if you had a guest over at your house and all they could do is comment on how they do everything better than you, and everything they have in their house is better than yours? And once again, not all Americans do this, but the majority do. I don't know how many times I've heard Americans doing this, and the thing of it is they don't even realize how rude they are being -- to them it is just conversation, or collective criticism. I think if they were to step back and think about how they are acting they wouldn't act that way -- then again there are some who would just continue acting that way because they're obnoxious and arrogant (but you can find obnoxious and arrogant people in any country).

  • 7 years ago

    The reason is that the U.S is a very large country with a LOT of people. So as not to completely disappear amongst in the crowd, being noticed is of prime importance to Americans. Also, historically the U.S has never had a real class system, so they have never been accustomed to watching their behavior in public, when to speak, when not to speak, what is proper to say and when. They have vast areas that are from a rather uncivilized background, where good manners were just never in demand. The overcrowding means that it is almost impossible to be noticed and to be so, you have to be the loudest. Americans have some kind of sense that whatever they have to say, is as important as what anyone else says and that it is their constitutional right to be heard.

    Unfortunately most of them are not fact or knowledge oriented. This means that to them, the important thing is to be noticed and heard, not what they are noticed or heard for. The only way to get noticed, when you have nothing interesting to say, is to be the loudest, and thus the Americans have developed a culture where everyone demands to be heard and does so by trying to be the loudest.

    This means there is a constant high volume in the U.S, so that everyone is constantly 1 louder, at 11 if you will. And so, when the very few of them that actually bother to go abroad communicate they do it in the way they are used to, loud, unknowing that this is not socially accepted in civilized countries. Personally I feel we should not be too harsh on the ones we encounter in our countries, for after all they are the few that actually bothered to have a look at the rest of the world, and for this they should be commended...

  • 6 years ago

    Americans are loud in foreign countries because they have the right to party at a young age, and they don't have this kind of freedom in the USA. 21 is the drinking age in the USA. They hang out in bars and get drunk until really late and don't care about people who have to get up for work. Americans must dread the day they go back to America to get back on the wagon. Rehab time at Betty Ford's.

  • 5 years ago

    merica is a nation of loud people because it is a nation of immigrants.

    It is noticeable that when English speaking people visit the rest of the world, they don’t make any attempt to learn their language – instead they talk to people in (for example) France using English. When the French do not seem to understand, the English simply repeat the same thing – louder and slower.

    It is likely that newcomers to America were treated in much the same way. The original settlers were mainly English speaking (The Mayflower and all of that) and so when other people came along to America, the English speaking people of the established colonies would have attempted to teach them English.

    When the immigrants (naturally) did not understand – the incumbent English speakers simply repeated the same thing – louder and slower.

    Thus the new Americans came to understand that the way to speak the language of their adopted nation was LOUD and ssslooowww.

    Hence America is a nation of loud people who speak with a ‘drawl’.

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  • 7 years ago

    maybe they have some sort of hearing loss problems,i have heard it is very common occupational disorder in America,so those are maybe deaf.

  • 4 years ago

    Americans are loud in any country in public. Last week I was in a family pizza restaurant with my dad and we were not able to hear each other with normal conversation due to all the VERY LOUD "talking" by others in the restaurant some 3-5 tables away from us. Whatever happened to normal "indoor" voices?

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Well... there is admittedly a volume problem. To be fair, we don't just speak loudly in other countries. We're equally loud at home. Some of it is due to excitement, perhaps we do it if we're nervous, some certainly do it to be the center of attention and in a country of loud people it can be quite comical to watch the "volume" battles... Of course you realize that many of us are quite subdued. I guess we're the ones that don't travel much.

  • 6 years ago

    I found Germans to be the ones that always talk extremely loud. I have had Germans on both my work places and they always speak very loud. Americans do it to but not in the same way.

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    Americans aren't as loud as any other race. I think you're Anti-American and hate to hear Americans speak. Even if Americans are loud, don't worry about them, worry about yourself because they're not bothering you.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Talk Loudly

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    I don t know what I do know is that they talk very load on there news programs .but the dress well etc. CNN.

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