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Is it rude to ask someone where they are from?

My family went to Gatlinburg, TN for a weekend getaway this past weekend. While we were there we ate at Bubba Gumps. Our server had a very strong accent and we were trying to figure out where she was from. My husband thought she was from Finland and I thought she might be from a country closer to the southwestern part of Russia. Anyways, I told my husband to just ask her. He didn't want to because he thinks it is rude to ask someone where they are from. In your opinion, is it rude? I personally think it is a great converstation starter. I love to travel and I enjoy talking to people who are from different cultures and backgrounds than I am.


Asked by JeremysMom at 2:56 PM on Dec. 29, 2009 in Just for Fun

Level 35 (75,344 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (16)
  • I moved here from England and my first job was food server in a restaurant. I estimated that I was asked where I was from 3650 times the first year because I was asked at least 10 times a day. It's not rude, but it gets old really, really fast.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:15 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • No I don't think it's rude. Just say something complimentary like "you have a lovely accent. Where does it originate?"

    Answer by admckenzie at 2:59 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • A lot is in how you phrase the question. If you just ask "Where are you from" they might think you're rude. If you phrase it "I love your voice? My dh thinks it's ...could you please tell me where it comes from?"

    Answer by baconbits at 2:59 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • I am just like you but once I asked an older woman where she was from (Germany as it turns out) and she was furious. She bitched me out and told me she'd lived in Canada a whole lot longer than I had. She lived in the condo with my Grandma and apparently I really offended her. So now I don't ask!

    Answer by jeanclaudia at 3:01 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • I always ask people that if they have an accent I can't place. I never thought of it as rude.

    Answer by benjamink at 3:01 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • jeanclaudia, I lived in Germany for 3 years and let me tell you, for the most part, German women are very rude and very blunt.

    Answer by JeremysMom at 3:03 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • As long as you phrase it politely and with respect, I don't think it's rude. The one time I asked someone where she was from I just said, "I notice your accent and I hope you don't think it's rude of me but I'm curious where you are from." She was very nice when she replied.

    Answer by wildflowers25 at 3:10 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • LOL! admckenzie's answer made me think of Dumb and Dumber "That's a lovely accent. New Jersey?"

    To OP; I think it depends on the person. If they seem friendly and open to conversation, I say go for it. But if they seem like they aren't in the mood to chat, leave them alone.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:10 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • Really depends on how you ask. We were in a Mexican restaurant a while ago (local chain) and the totally self absorbed yuppies at the next table stopped the hispanic looking waiter at some point and said something to the effect of: your accent is absolutely fascinating, but your English is so good, where are you from? To which he replied, "California."

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:20 PM on Dec. 29, 2009

  • I don't think it's rude at all. I have a southern accent and whenever I travel anywhere north of around maryland, people ask me when I walk into a restaurant and ask for a table for X number of people. It gets old, but thankfully I live in the South, and it's not uncommon to hear the accent around here (although so many people have moved here from everywhere else in the country that people still ask me!)

    Answer by missanc at 3:25 PM on Dec. 29, 2009