Note Making: Elements of Etiquette

Every code of etiquette has contained three elements: basic moral duties; practical rules which promote efficiency; and artificial optional graces such as formal compliments to say, superiors on their generosity and importance.

In the first category consideration for the weak and respect for age. Among the ancient Egyptians, the young always stood in the presence of older people. Among the Mpongwe of Tanzani a, the young men bow as they pass the huts of the elders. In England, until about a century ago, young children did not sit in their parents’ presence without taking permission.

Practical rules are helpful in such ordinary occurrences of social life as making proper introductions at parties or other functions so that people can be brought to know each other. Before the invention of the folk, etiquette directed that the fingers should be kept as clean as possible; before the handkerchief came into common use, etiquette suggested that, after spitting, a person should rub the spit inconspicuously underfoot.

Extremely refined behaviour, however, cultivated as an art of gracious living, has been a characteristic only of societies with wealth and leisure, which admitted women as the social equals of men.

In fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, a wealthy and leisured society developed an extremely complex code of manners, but the rules of behaviour of fashionable society had little influence on the daily life of the lower classes. Indeed many of the rules, such as how to enter a banquet room, or how to use a sword or handkerchief for ceremonial purposes, were irrelevant to the way of life of the average working man who spent most of his life outdoors or in his own poor hut and most probably did not have a handkerchief certainly not a sword, to his name.

Yet the essential basis of all good manners does not vary. Consideration for the old and the weak and the avoidance of harming or giving unnecessary offence to others is a feature of all societies everywhere and at all levels from the highest to the lowest. You can easily think of dozens of examples of customs and habits in your own daily life which come under this heading.

On the basis of your reading of the above passage, make notes using headings and subheadings. Use recognisable abbreviations, wherever necessary (minimum 4). Use format, if you consider suitable.

Elements of Etiquette

  1. Basic moral duties:
    1. Consdr’tion for the weak and respect for age
    2. Bowing before elders
    3. Not sitting in front of their elders
  2. Prac. rules:
    1. Proper intro. at parties
    2. Keeping fingers clean
    3. Cleaning the spit underfoot
  3. Artificial optional graces:
    1. Dev. by wealthy and leisured society
    2. How to enter a banquet room
    3. How to use a sword or a handkerchief
Key to Abbreviations
1. Consdr’tion – Consideration
2. Prac. – Practical
3. Intro. – Introduction
4. Dev. – Developed

Q. Write a summary of the above passage in about 80 words.


Every code of etiquette contains three elements: basic moral duties, practical rules and artificial optional graces. Basic moral duties include consideration for the weak and respect for age. Practical rules include etiquettes in ordinary occurrences of social life such as introductions, hygiene etc. The third element includes rules and behaviour of wealthy and fashionable society like how to use a handkerchief or a sword. Yet the basics of all these remain the same, giving respect and consideration to all the basics.

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