In America, many people will find it rude if you are talking to others in a whisper within a distance at which they would hear conversation at a normal volume. I guess the assumption is that whisperers are `hiding something' from you. However, I have noticed that many foreigners will ask me, while we converse, why I am talking so loud, and will set a tone that requires me to really lean in close. As such, I am thinking that the taboo around whispering is a distinctly American thing.

Are there other cultures where whispering to avoid bothering others is the correct thing to do? Are there other cultures where whispering is taboo?

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    I, an American, have never heard of the idea that whispering is rude. But I have also found that loud annoying people in other countries are often fellow Americans. – phoog Apr 30 '18 at 21:00
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    Welcome to TSE. I, too, am American and have never heard of any taboo about whispering in public— whispering in front of dinner companions sitting next to you at the table is something different, of course. Consider too that one can speak softly without whispering, a skill Americans would be advised to develop when traveling to Japan or much of Europe, say. – choster Apr 30 '18 at 21:41

Whispering in general, no - it's ok to keep your voice down to avoid disturbing others (eg during movies, watching live golf, tennis, etc).

However, some people do certainly consider it rude to whisper in front of others. It's akin to talking to one one of two (or more) people in a room as you're excluding them from the conversation.


Are there other cultures where whispering to avoid bothering others is the correct thing to do?

I would say, in most European and Asian countries keeping your conversation down to the level that people around you are not bothered with it is the correct thing to do. This is especially true in mass transit. In "quiet" subway cars, for example, ANY kind of conversation is frowned upon and would give you weird looks (you'll see lots of people around texting though).

Are there other cultures where whispering is taboo?

I'm not aware of any, and this is certainly not the case here in America. And I agree to what phoog and choster said. Indeed fellow Americans are usually those loud people you can hear from across the street.


I am from the Netherlands. From a young age I was taught that it is impolite to whisper when there are other people around. Now I am in Indonesia, and the youngest child (of 12 years old) of the family where I am staying whispers a lot to his older sister (about 20) when I am teaching them English. It annoys me, but I have restrained myself from saying anything. After reading the comments here I think I'll go on trying to restrain myself. But if you ever go to Holland, remember that it's a definitely 'not done' there.

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