Unit 6 Customs & Culture: Surprising Customs – Class 9 English Exercise

Explore surprising customs from around the world, including pointing with the lips in Nicaragua, tipping culture in the US, noodle slurping in Japan, and Yoruba greeting rituals in Nigeria. Discover how these unique customs shape cultural identity and etiquette worldwide.

Text Summary of Surprising Customs

Humans possess a remarkable ability to create customs and traditions, resulting in the proliferation of diverse cultures worldwide. This is evident in various surprising customs observed in different parts of the world. In Nicaragua, pointing with the lips is a common gesture, while in the United States, a widespread tipping culture exists. Japan has a unique practice of slurping noodles to express enjoyment of the food, and the Yoruba people in Nigeria have distinctive greeting rituals involving kneeling or prostrating themselves when greeting elders. These customs highlight the importance of cultural identity and etiquette in different societies.

Key points from the text:

The development of customs and traditions is a characteristic observed in humans, and it significantly contributes to the richness and diversity of cultures worldwide.

In Nicaragua, the act of pointing using the lips is a prevalent gesture, as opposed to the conventional use of the thumb or index finger.

In the United States, there is a widespread and anticipated practice of leaving gratuities, typically ranging from 10 to 20 percent of the total bill, at restaurants.

In Japan, it is customary and socially acceptable to audibly slurp while consuming food, especially noodles, as a means of expressing satisfaction and enjoyment.

The Yoruba people of Nigeria possess distinct greeting customs, whereby young individuals demonstrate respect and deference to their elders by kneeling or prostrating themselves during greetings.

Glossary of the Text Surprising Customs

connotation /ˌkɒnəˈteɪʃ(ə)n/ – an idea or feeling associated with a word, in addition to its literal meaning.

contemplate /ˈkɒntəmpleɪt/ – to think deeply or consider carefully.

custom /ˈkʌstəm/ – a traditional practice or behavior that is common in a particular society or culture.

deference /ˈdɛfərəns/ – respectful submission or yielding to the judgment, opinion, or will of another person.

diverse /daɪˈvɜrs/ – showing a great deal of variety or difference.

etiquette /ˈɛtɪkɛt/ – customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.

explicit /ɪkˈsplɪsɪt/ – clearly and directly stated or expressed.

gesture /ˈdʒɛstʃər/ – a movement of the body, especially the hands or head, to express an idea or meaning.

identity /aɪˈdɛntəti/ – the distinct characteristics and qualities that define a person, group, or thing.

inclination /ˌɪnklɪˈneɪʃ(ə)n/ – a natural tendency or preference towards a particular action or belief.

intriguing /ɪnˈtriːɡɪŋ/ – fascinating or interesting, arousing curiosity.

majority /məˈdʒɒrɪti/ – the greater part or number; more than half.

mandatory /ˈmændətɔːri/ – required or obligatory; something that must be done.

palate /ˈpælət/ – the roof of the mouth, including the sense of taste.

prevalent /ˈprɛvələnt/ – commonly existing, widely accepted, or practiced.

prostrate /ˈprɒstreɪt/ – lying flat on the ground, face down, as a sign of submission or worship.

puckering /ˈpʌkərɪŋ/ – tightening or wrinkling, as the lips do when drawn together.

respect /rɪˈspɛkt/ – a feeling or attitude of admiration and deference towards someone or something.

ritual /ˈrɪtʃʊəl/ – a series of actions or behaviors performed in a specific order, often with symbolic meaning.

scrutinize /ˈskruːtənaɪz/ – to examine or inspect closely and thoroughly.

slurp /slɜrp/ – to make a loud sucking sound while eating or drinking.

subject to /ˈsʌbdʒɛkt tuː/ – likely to be affected or influenced by something.

tendency /ˈtɛndənsi/ – an inclination or predisposition to behave or think in a particular way.

tradition /trəˈdɪʃ(ə)n/ – a belief, custom, or practice that is passed down from generation to generation.

variation /ˌvɛəriˈeɪʃ(ə)n/ – a difference or deviation from the standard or usual condition.

worldwide /wɜːldˈwaɪd/ – happening or existing in all parts of the world.

Exercise of Surprising Custo Class 9

A. Find the words from the text that match the following meanings.

a. propensity ⇒ a natural desire

b. etiquette ⇒ the rules of correct or polite behaviour in society

c. bartenders ⇒ people who work in a bar, serving drinks

d. contort ⇒ to become twisted

B. Write True for true and False for false statements.

a. In Nicaragua, people prefer to point with their thumb. ⇒ False

b. Tipping is compulsory at most restaurants in the US. ⇒ True

c. Contorting is less noisier than slurping. ⇒ False

d. People from the West take noodles by twisting them on a spoon. ⇒ True

e. The Bini and the Kalabari are ethnic groups of Nigeria. ⇒ True

C. Answer the following questions.

a. What makes a group of people different from others?

⇒ People’s customs and traditions make themselves different from others.

b. What is the unique tradition of Nicaragua?

⇒ It is common to point with the lips instead of the thumb or index finger like the majority of the world.

c. What is a positive aspect of tipping culture?

⇒ Tipping culture in the US gives an incentive for waiters and waitresses to provide better service.

d. Why do Japanese make slurping sounds while eating noodles?

⇒ Japanese make slurping sounds while eating noodles because making slurping sounds is a way of indicating that they’re really enjoying noodles.

e. How do Yoruba people greet their elders?

⇒ Yoruba people greet their elders dropping to their knees.

Grammar II

A. Choose the following sentences in indirect speech from the list to match with the sentences in direct speech in the table below.

I asked the woman next to me if the bus to Kathmandu had already left. ⇒ d. “Has the bus to Kathmandu already left?” I said to a woman next to me.

I asked the teacher whether the book had been translated into Nepali. ⇒ c. I asked the teacher, “Has the book been translated into Nepali?”

Barsa asked her teacher if she should write the story again. ⇒ e. “Should I write the story again?” Barsa asked her teacher.

Samir asked Rohan whether he had finished reading his book. ⇒ b. Samir asked Rohan, “Have you finished reading my book?”

The new pupil asked me if I was a class captain. ⇒ a. The new pupil said to me, “Are you a class captain?”

B. Change the following sentences into indirect speech.

Rahul said to me, “Did you watch the cricket match on TV last night?”

⇒ Rahul asked me if I had watched the cricket match on TV the previous night.

“Are you coming home with me?” he said.

⇒ He asked if I was coming home with him.

“Do you really come from India?” said the prince.

⇒ The prince asked if I really came from India.

“Have you anything to say?” said the judge finally.

⇒ The judge asked finally if I had anything to say.

She said to me, “Is he at home?”

⇒ She asked me if he was at home.

Usha says, “Can you solve the problem?”

⇒ Usha asks if I can solve the problem.

Badri said to Asmita, “Will you visit me in Australia?”

⇒ Badri asked Asmita if she would visit him in Australia.

Radhika said to Rebecca, “Did you hear the noise?”

⇒ Radhika asked Rebecca if she had heard the noise.

He said, “Have you seen my hat?”

⇒ He asked if I had seen his hat.

He said to me, “Does he come or not?”

⇒ He asked me if he came or not.

Rohan said to me, “Did you spill the milk on the floor?”

⇒ Rohan asked me if I had spilt the milk on the floor.

The pilot said to the air hostess, “Have the passengers fastened their seatbelts?”

⇒ The pilot asked the air hostess if the passengers had fastened their seatbelts.

Writing II Surprising Customs

Write an essay on any one of the unique customs.

The Art of Slurping: Japan’s Unique Noodle Eating Custom


Cultures around the world possess fascinating customs [Surprising Customs] that reflect their unique identities. Among these, Japan stands out with its distinctive practice of slurping noodles while eating. This peculiar custom, far from being considered rude or impolite, is deeply ingrained in Japanese society and holds significant cultural meaning. This essay explores the art of slurping in Japan, delving into its historical roots, social implications, and the sensory experience it provides.

Historical Roots:

The tradition of slurping noodles in Japan dates back centuries, with evidence found in ancient literature and artistic depictions. It is believed that this custom originated during the Edo period (1603-1868), when noodles gained popularity as a portion of affordable and nourishing food. Slurping was a practical technique to cool down the hot noodles quickly and enhance their flavor. Over time, this pragmatic act transformed into a cultural symbol, intertwining with notions of enjoyment, appreciation, and culinary aesthetics.

Social Implications:

In Japanese culture, slurping is not only accepted but encouraged. It is considered a sign of respect and appreciation towards the chef who prepared the dish. By audibly slurping noodles, individuals convey their enjoyment and satisfaction, expressing gratitude for the culinary experience. This act also fosters a sense of communal dining, as the sounds of slurping create an ambience of shared pleasure and gastronomic camaraderie. Furthermore, slurping is seen as a way to engage multiple senses simultaneously, heightening the overall dining experience.

Sensory Experience:

Slurping noodles is more than a mere gustatory act; it engages various sensory aspects. The audible slurping sound adds a rhythmic element to the dining experience, enhancing the enjoyment for both the slurper and those around them. It is believed that the act of slurping draws air into the palate, intensifying the perception of flavors and aromas. This interactive process stimulates taste receptors, creating a multisensory experience that elevates the appreciation of the dish. Moreover, the act of slurping adds a tactile element, as the noodles glide along the lips, tongue, and palate, enhancing the overall texture sensation.

Cultural Significance:

The custom of slurping noodles in Japan goes beyond mere dining etiquette; it embodies cultural values and aesthetics. It signifies a genuine appreciation for the craftsmanship involved in creating the noodles and broth. The act of slurping demonstrates a level of engagement and enthusiasm for the culinary arts, reflecting the Japanese emphasis on mindfulness and being fully present in the moment. It is a celebration of the flavors, textures, and cultural heritage associated with this beloved culinary tradition.


Japan’s unique custom of slurping noodles is a remarkable example of how a seemingly ordinary act can carry deep cultural significance. Far from being considered impolite, slurping in Japan is an art form that embodies appreciation, communal dining, and sensory pleasure. Rooted in history and nourished by social customs, this custom represents the vibrant and multifaceted nature of Japanese culture. By embracing and cherishing such customs, we gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich tapestry of traditions that define our world.