Etiquette in Mauritania

Video Transcript

Mauritanians, by nature, are very direct. One thing that I did not mention last time we talked is that you're never gonna hear 'please' and 'thank you,' for example, as an example. If I want to ask for those papers, I say, 'Gimme the papers.' You don't say 'please' or 'thank you.' Or I say, 'Here' after I read something, 'Here.' It might sound weird to a Westerner, to an American, it's like 'Excuse me, you forgot...' Growing up, 'You forgot your please and thank yous.' It's perfectly normal.

People will get into your business. They wanna know what's going on with you. And they're gonna ask you, even in greetings, when you meet somebody, the notion of, for us, and I contrast this for us in the States, when you have somebody say, 'Hey, how are you?' He [asks] you once, you answer the question, he moves on, that's it. Sometimes he doesn't even wait for you to answer, 'Hey, how are you?' [He takes] off. And you're like, 'I'm good.' In Mauritania, because it's very personal, and they take interest in that. And it's not the interest that they take as much as they wanna convey that they're sincere, they really care about you. And they do, it's not like a fake thing that they do. So they will ask you, 'How are you?' Or, 'What's wrong?' Rather than ask you, 'Is everything OK?' And then they keep on repeating that over the time that you greet and meet to the point where you're like, if you're not used to it you're like, 'Why is this guy asking me all these questions? It's none of his business.' So you just gotta put your mindset into that.

In this video, a Mauritanian expert explains politeness and greetings in Mauritania.