Why are Americans so loud?

From Julia Belluz at Vox:

…Americans are loud

A final point about why restaurants are so loud. This has nothing to do with restaurateurs or designers or acoustic engineers. It has to do with Americans — who I believe are a slightly louder people, on average.

As a Canadian working in the US, I am often struck by how much louder my fellow diners in restaurants seem to be, and how much more loudly the people I’m walking near on streets speak to one another or into their cellphones.

This is not a scientific observation, but it’s one that’s fueled Reddit discussions and even a ban on “loud Americans” in a pub in Ireland. Sietsema, for one, also agreed with my view. “When Europeans imitate Americans, they shout,” he said. “We tend to be louder people — we’re louder talkers; we’re bigger with our expressions.”

And Alex W. asks me: Since you’re so well traveled, is this true, and if so, why?  I can think of a few hypotheses:

1. At least originally, Americans had much more space than did Europeans, and this is still true to some degree.  That induce norms of loudness, which have to some extent persisted.

2. America is a nation of immigrants, with English-language proficiency of varying quality, including historically.  For whatever reason, good or bad, we tend to shout a bit when the listener is not fluent in our language.

3. Taleb has suggested that higher status people shout less, talk in more hushed tones, and are more likely to whisper, to grab the attention of the crowd.  Perhaps America has fewer high status people to set social norms.  Or perhaps our high status people derive status from their wealth, and feel the need to emit fewer cultural signals, just as wealthy Americans often dress more poorly or eat a worse diet than European elites.

4. Characters on TV speak more loudly, and Americans watch more TV and admire and mimic it more.

5. Americans command a broader personal space, keeping a greater distance, and thus they have to speak more loudly to each other (and they feel Italians are intrusive with respect to how close they stand).

6. Loudness is perhaps a byproduct of individualism.

7. American culture values “forthrightness and self-confidence.”  Plus maybe it’s a regional thing?

What else?


Should there be a right to make noise, or a right to silence? Either way, as a good Coasian (Coasean?), this post reminds me of the reciprocal nature of the problem between silence lovers and noise producers.

I know the answer but it won't be popular. It is as simple as this: Americans are the people the rest of the world want to shun/discriminate against and they do it with snide remarks like this. It makes them feel good and a little superior to put others down. Not to mention great fun too. They seem to feel that Americans must be subservient when not in America. Meet the new discrimination, same as the old.

Aw, diddums.

I'm pointed in Enrique's direction -- this is probably a population difference where extroverts are the dominant group (also most visible) versus one where they're not. It's not active to be silent, much harder to disturb other people by silenting all over them.

For the record, Enrique's comment wasn't snide.

And, GWTW, if you feel like people are consistently putting you or your group down, the best first place to look is to yourself to make sure you're not engaging in projection or rationalization. If you really think the problem is everyone else's superior attitude and how they're always putting your group down...hm.

(But, you were probably right about the popularity of your opinion :)

Oh, I'm sorry Brian and Doug. Was I too loud for you?

Loud? No. And no need to apologise.

Theory: Americans, to a greater extent than others, are on average loud and obnoxious in proportion to their ignorance. Many are, however, open to listening to alternative perspectives, and refrain from yelling and stomping if disagreement persists after attempting to understand the other person.

FYI: Loudness and lack of understanding others does not mean that you've "won an argument" or convinced anyone of anything.

It's a conflict that can't be resolved. I am enraged every time someone plays loud music or videos/games on public transportation, and shocked that someone could be so oblivious to the fact that this is annoying to everyone around them, but I can never get past the fact that there are so many different types of noise that we simply accept, including loud conversations to a certain extent, and so I can't really justify targeting this guy and his phone noise...

So I just sit and hate him.

Have you ever offered someone money to stop talking loudly?

I wonder if it happens in countries where the weather is nicer and people spend a lot of time outside. When you're out in the open air you need to be louder if you want to be heard. That would explain why people living in southern Europe are louder than the northern Europeans.
In America this it'd be harder to notice since Americans move from a state to another pretty easily and probably people with a "being loud" culture got mixed with the people living in cold states.

This would explain why the Brazilians are the loudest people in the world. In fact the idol-worshipping Indians and the crypto-Fascist Japanese cannot hold a candle to them.

Or as an alternative explanation - countries with recent histories of dueling, or the random cutting down of annoying passers-by in order to test your new sword (see 辻斬り ), are much more polite and hence quieter.

Hahahaha. Have you ever not had a batshit crazy opinion on something?

Hey, no fair. Indians do worship idols.

Not original to me I am afraid - an armed society is, after all, a polite society. Southerners are a hell of lot more polite than New Yorkers. Although that is probably where the theory falls down as Chicagoans are vastly more likely to be shot down these days.

Anyone who might qualify for polite society in Chicago has been disarmed by law.

Southerners are not more polite than New Yorkers. They only pretend to be.

Close, Mr. So Much.

Americans must speak louder in order to be heard over the gun fire.

frankly, if you had more empathy mebbe you wouldn't
pretend you know where this is going so
much as where you should be going
which is to see that film the death of stalin
banned in boulder county?
frankly, we need to talk
its the sociology dept all over again
its not just the moods and the probability whacking
over the last 10 years they have taken over all the symbology. they decided they get to tell us
what symbols we use and cant use and what they mean and dont mean
and then about a year ago they "discovered"
everthings about signaling.
coincidence or collusion.
and aren't the media the main signalers?
you could be wondering whats the connection
between the sociology dept and the media?
que es senormcheerfulcistern

not banned yet in boulder county
here are the showtimes

el Señor cisterna alegre es también un odiador de la sátira.

pero no ha demostrado la sátira en
una manera replicable de ser un
método económico de señalar defectos en malas ideas
Además de ser un bálsamo para los doloridos vagos

Se ha demostrado que la sátira ayuda a completar las tareas de matemáticas.

la sátira también proporciona una forma de mirar las cosas desde una nueva perspectiva

una manera de explorar palabras y nuevos mundos

la sátira puede ser un jab oportuno en el nads

Señor cisterna feliz dice que él no siempre re
Lea lo que ha escrito

es lo mismo con el epartamento de ociología y los medios de comunicación

De acuerdo con mi roku curandero sátira es una cura para el mal humor o incluso una lente terapéutica a través del cual explorar el mal humor.
Francamente, podría estar lleno de heces

la sátira puede ser usada para concientizar sobre la salud pública actual isssues

why does senor happywell
hate the satire

Hombre explicador
probablemente la parte sobre el jab en nads

Occam Razor: Americans are loud because they are very impolite.

mebbe the americans are too loud because they are politely
trying to pretend the swedes arent frankly naked
like here

Thiago seriamente amigo
humano o simplemente otro corte de pelo extraño
escribes como sean Penn

Thanks for enriching my historic vocabulary with "tsujigiri" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsujigiri

the tsujigiri sound a lot like the
modern sinaloan heroin drug cartel
they are about the only ones left hacking
people in parts with Japanese swords
these days and we are not allowed to
mention it because of their immigration status
that is empathy

the sociology dept promised us flying cars and that drug deregulation
would decrease violent crime and hard drug use
but we got increased crime increased and hard drug use
frankly, we don't need a flying car

the local stabbings around here
are not metaphorical
they are more bloody and frequently drug related

you are too loud
if the sociology hears you
they will eat your brains
that is empathy

If American popular media can be believed, American school children are required to speak in class and to give presentations in class much more often than they are in the UK. I have often wondered if this produces a more extrovert national character.

My English teacher pointed out (during a discussion of "All My Sons") that children of non-english speaking immigrants might know more about daily life in America than their parents from a relatively early age - perhaps that had some influence on national character.

So, has the DC Metro grown louder in the last 20 years? There are places in the U.S. (at least in the past) in which the lack of normal human interaction is partly recognized through the lack of any conversation between people.

Though possibly, the slugs engage in a broader of behavior.

1. People around the world tend to be more embarrassed about personal circumstances. Americans' comfort with trying and failing leave people less embarrassed about personal stories; we don't care who hears and we might even be proud when they hear. 2. Just like we have American spelling, we found one other feature to set us apart from the English (and other Europeans in general). Canadians--not having the same desire--were happy to copy the English.

Years ago, when my Swedish born uncle Mike was being treated like sh*t by some bureaucrat, he uttered (to our surprise) the following: “ You can’t treat me like this! I’m an American!” (He served 4 years in Korea in order to expedite his becoming an American.) Maybe we are a confident people?

I think that's key: in non-American countries, you're expected to know your place (which BTW is the essence of Socrates' saying "Know Yourself"). Here in the Philippines --and my gf says I'm loud--people stand patiently for 10 minutes waiting for an elevator to come to the lobby. Or they wait literally 30 minutes to an hour to talk to the bank teller for a transaction (I sometimes will take a bank queue ticket, go shopping, and come back in an hour; sometimes my queue number has passed, but I act like the dumb foreigner and it usually works to slip back in line).

BONUS TRIVIA: NOTWITHSTANDING QUIET VOICES, IN THE PHILIPPINES THEY LOVE LOUD MUSIC DURING PARTIES! really loud, you can hear your teeth rattle and the walls shake from sympathetic resonance.

There is also some selection bias. If three loud Americans and five quiet ones visit a bar in Dublin, the loud ones are more likely to be pegged as Americans due to the accent, while some of the quiet ones will pass as Irish from across the room.

I can confirm the selection bias. My wife and I are now on vacation in Marrakesh, and we've been pegged as British several times based on the fact that we're not loud. On the other hand, I've seen several very loud Germans pegged as Americans by people who can't seem to tell the difference between English and German.

I suspect Europeans who are loud are presumed to be the exception, while loud Americans are presumed to be the norm--and that presumption causes people to dismiss loud Europeans (and in our travels we've encountered quite a few) or thinking they're American.

I was wondering about this from the other direction. I've spent loads out time eating out in Canada, and it has never once struck me that it was noticeably quieter than doing the same In Michigan.

Michigan is not lower New York maybe? MI = Canada.


Although something in me wants to chant:

Wow. Youre kidding right? I could barely hear over my Honduran in laws. Canadians have an exceedingly low bar for behavior. Koreans, poles, Latinos etc are all far louder than my white bread college associates from Louisiana. And Cajuns and coonasses aren't exactly quiet.

This. Very strange piece. The vast majority of the world makes the US seem like a church library.

In fairness, Canadians can't even have a right-of-center political opinion without looking over their shoulders these days. I'd speak softly, too.

Are you sure some extremists aren't trying to use reverse psychology to beat you toward extremism?

Or perhaps some extremists are arranging for you to encounter some extremists on the other end of the spectrum in order to manipulate your perception of the broader political environment?

Right of centre opinions such as lower taxes or getting rid of any potentially unnecessary regulations can be met with some argumentation that can feel ethically uncomfortable in some contexts/issues. But that's different from tolerating the fundamentally dishonest communications for political attack purposes, which in the last decade or two in the Canadian case has been a much more accurate and relevant criticism of those toward the extreme on the right than others.

For example, there's a difference between "I care, but tough love is necessary so they can have the privilege of zero-contact zero-money picking themselves up by the bootstraps" and "let the parasites starve" argumentation from those who support genocide in the Middle East.

The people who ran the US-based portion of the Cambridge Analytica scandal -- which ultimately supported Trump -- in the 2016 election first tried supporting Mr. "let's see what color we can get the Middle East to glow".

If that's not significant, then what is?

Thanks. That clarifies the matter.

That's a good point. (White) Americans are (painfully) loud compared to whites everywhere else in the world... but does not necessarily apply outside those bounds. (Also, white Americans traveling in non-white countries are more likely to be affluent, and thus quieter, so the effect may actually be reversed outside Europe.)

The loudest people on Earth are West Africans and the West African diaspora. My God are Nigerians loud.

Blame television.

Canadians, Russians, Swedes, Finns etc have big empty spaces -- there is no need to talk loudly.

Blame the American Dream.

It is easier to fake it than make it -- talking loud and self promotion are part of that.

European elites tend to downplay their assets -- "my little place in the country" often is a castle.

I don't travel enough to have an opinion.

Most of my various Italian American relatives have been pretty loud.

I recall that Scoozi, the hottest restaurant in Chicago's gentrifying River North neighborhood in 1987-1988, was unbelievably loud. The dinnertime wait was usually two hours to eat and the bar was absolutely packed and the din was terrible. In retrospect, it sounds pretty horrible, but tout le monde in yuppie Chicago was dying to get in and were loudly excited when they finally did. The loudness presumably contributed to the excitement level and vice-versa.

After awhile, I lost interest in going to Scoozi for Yogi Berraish reasons: it got so popular that nobody went there anymore. But the noisy acoustics definitely didn't keep Lettuce Entertain You Inc from making a huge amount of money off Scoozi for many years.

What is even stranger is that restaurants have been making themselves louder for a long time. They have removed sound-deadening features like carpets and curtains. They have replaced them with hard surfaces, especially concrete.

I am sure that it is more hygienic - those carpets must have gotten pretty bad. But it is also probably very bad for the staff's hearing.

One table can't hear another table complain about the food or send a dish back, though.

A lot of complaints about not being able to hear because of noise come from older people who don't want to admit their hearing isn't as good as it used to be. My father, for example, was convinced that Marlon Brando had induced a generational bout of mumbling, but, in truth, my father was just growing deaf.

For example, a lot of people complain about how bad it is to go to movie theaters these days because they can't hear due to all the horrible talking during the movies. I haven't actually noticed that audience behavior is getting worse. That could be because I mostly go to the movies in North Hollywood and Hollywood where people take movies pretty seriously. But I have noticed that my hearing isn't as good as it used to be and I wouldn't mind if movie theaters used closed captioning so I could read the dialog. But it would be easy to blame my declining acuity of hearing on other people's rudeness.

It's a feedback problem. Australians, British, Nude Zealanders, whatever -- they meet some Americans and think, "My, these chaps certainly speak loudly, say what? I shall speak at a lower volume and provide a social cue to them they should lower their voices." This never works.

The lack of response to the volume cues they provide seems rude to the non-Americans, even though they are generally not consciously aware of why they feel slighted.

I don't know know what's going on from the American viewpoint, but maybe they think they non-Americans seem uptight and want to break the ice by turning up the gregariousness. This never works.

It's like the way Americans will chase British people around a room at a party as the Brits attempt to maintain a socially appropriate distance and the Americans do exactly the same.

Here's perhaps the most famous moment in the History of American Loudness: a folk music fan, outraged by Bob Dylan's electric guitar, shouts "Judas," and Bob tells The Band to "Play it ... loud."


Everybody knows that the Woodstock rock festival was all about peace and love and equality. Yet, 46 years on, with the immediate controversies of 1969 receding into the long perspective of history, when I watch movies of the 70-foot towers of speakers blasting out power chords by helicoptered-in American and British rockers, I notice there aren’t too many Germans, Japanese, Italians, or Frenchmen up on stage making a colossal racket.

Instead, the stars are the sons of the guys who won World War II. As we head toward the middle of the 21st century, Woodstock is beginning to look like a belated victory celebration by the English-speaking nations that ruled the world.

I bet The Who and Ten Years After were pretty darn loud.

Maybe since the American did not experience royalty and royal cour, which in Europe gave birth to manners and discretion, they missed this frame of reference and got louder.

My experience of hanging around tourist dives in Europe - like the Louvre or the museums of Berlin - is that the loudest people are young and Spanish. With the Italians not far behind. However once the sun goes down and the alcohol flows freely, it is the British who break all records.

I think Americans have largely been shamed out of it.

Dave Barry took a tour bus to Mt. Fuji with a lot of Brazilian tourists. He said Brazilians are louder than Japanese.

There are TVs everywhere: in the dining room, the themed restaurant, the bar. If you want to be heard you have to be louder than the TV.

My last bad experience was in an airport lounge. It's a place where you're supposed to relax between a transatlantic flight and the following one. Even though the TV was loud and all the people around louder than the TV. Welcome to NY...

Not being an economist, I'd like to know whether it is actually true that Americans are louder before I speculate as to why they are louder, if they are.

Actually, despite the stereotypes, Japanese and Koreans are extremely loud. They put Americans to shame in the loudness department.

Americans however, are still "Number One" in the profanity department. They can't utter a sentence without multiple uses of fuc**** and motherf******ing, or motherf****er.

Probably they don't even consider it inappropriate language anymore. Even the POTUSA uses such expressions liberally. Such is life in America in 2018.

This is more indicative of the company you keep than anything about Americans, motherf***er.

American abroad here. Whenever I spend time with another American I always end up slowly adding more and more variants of fuck into my speech. I don't seem to do this with Brits/Aussies/etc.

Many restaurants are designed to be loud, with lots of hard surfaces and open spaces. I suppose this trend in restaurants began when the French cuisine trend ended: La Grenouille et al. were designed to be soft and quiet with the attention directed to the cuisine (and the exquisite sauces) not the patrons. My first observation is that as the volume went up, the quality of the food went down: as with oratory, volume and quality are often inversely related. My second observation is that as the volume went up and quality went down, the size of the portions went up: when it comes to food served in restaurants, size matters. My third observation is that as "fine dining" became a more democratic experience (we are all "fine diners" now), "fine" has taken on a more democratic meaning: in a democracy, what prevails is what appeals to the average person, be it political candidates or restaurants. Bon appetit.

1. Within the USA, I noticed "lower status" people to be louder irrespective of race; a city bus (in a middle income town) or a greyhound terminus or poor crime-ridden localities were places where I would find people the loudest. Amtrak was less loud than these, but louder than elsewhere.

Perhaps being in a workplace trains you to be quiet and whisper when necessary, but the extent to which it trains you depending on the work culture. Perhaps better European work ethic has something to do with it? If this is true, people of western Europe should be quieter than those in Eastern Europe. And Marshmallow experiment, anyone?

2. Growing up in India, I was so loud that others would ask me to tone my voice down. Returning to India after spending several years in US, I noticed my voice level to be lower than that of most Indians and was surprised to see fewer people able to whisper well. Anecdotally I have noticed France-returned Indians to be quieter than me (as are of course Parisians; I don't know if people from south of France are as quiet as those from Paris).

3. Language/accent might play a role: languages/accents that tax certain parts of the throat may be conducive to lower voice levels, and those that tax certain other parts to higher voice levels. I have noticed Chinese people to be louder than Europeans, but then they are less bassy as well; does this have something to do with the sounds of Chinese language?

4. I have heard multiple people claim that, while riding taxi cabs in London, their drivers often talk on mobile phones so softly that the passenger hardly notices a sound.

5. On a lighter note, here is a humorous take by Scott Adams on how characters in Hollywood movies whisper, from more than a decade ago.

I think longer work hours as well as workers' rights are probably correlated with poorer work ethic. You can allow 35 hour work weeks if you expect that the workers will be just working without checking email. It is productivity per hour that should count.

However I should confess I don't have links at the tip of my hands: I only vaguely remember seeing limited stats to this effect.

Typo: I meant Longer work hours as well as a lower level of worker's rights are correlated with poorer work ethic. Western Europe, in particular Germany, has shorter work weeks than the US, with a better work ethic. Countries such as Greece that you quoted have longer work hours, poorer work ethic.

This is for comparing societal averages, not across individuals.

I came to this position roughly around the time I read Tyler's article above, and I think that article probably had an influence.

Not to purport to have this counted as proof, but here is a nice post of Tyler where he comments on French work ethic.

I did not notice South Koreans to be particularly loud when I was there for work. It has been a consistent observation that Americans in groups are much louder than other tourists such that you can hear a lot of their conversation from a fair distance away. The one thing that puzzles me about America is how people can tolerate so many ad breaks during their TV programming.

My kiwi friend visited the US for the first time and was surprised that Americans weren't loud and obnoxious. She actually thought they were quite friendly. She commented that Aussies are more "stereotypically American" than Americans are.

I've also noticed that when I'm in foreign tourist spots, the rudest people there never seem to be the Americans.

I wonder if the stereotype about Americans being louder than everyone else just isn't true.

(My kiwi friend was also surprised that we're not constantly shooting each other too. I think a lot of foreigners think that the US is just one giant gun fight!)

Agreed. In my travels, Brits and Aussies take the cake for boisterous.

As to the gun fight: after the Vegas shooting, Swiss radio sent out a reporter to investigate American gun culture. He found me and a friend shooting pistols in the Nevada desert; fifteen minutes in he was shooting with us and saying, "Wow, this is fun!" If only they all knew.

...that in response to Original CC.

Did he ask how much ammo cost?

Because going with the top link from google using "ammunition handgun round cost america"

, the current U.S. blam/ka-ching relationaship seems to be one blam to around 25-50 cents. Meaning 10 rounds equals 2.50 to 5 dollars.

With someone else doing the cleaning after that session, of course (depending on your personal habits, the weather, and ammo choices - the people that taught me about shooting were both combat veterans and Marines, and unsurprisingly quite strict about properly maintaining a weapon).

Personally, I have never understood what is supposed to be fun about shooting, but then, everybody has different tastes.

Perhaps last century the Australian army developed a "simulated gun" for training. I don't see why improved versions aren't used for target shooting. Far cheaper and when misused only cause simulated deaths.

There are also pellet pump guns, where ammo cost is not a concern (not to be confused with a BB gun, even if many people use the terms interchangeably),

And when someone breaks into his home, he can simulate defending his family. No ammo expenses, too!

Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Simulated ammo should be no problem.


Funny twist. Nonetheless the gun is still but a tool.

You can't have a simulated gun in your home. Not one you at least. If it's doing a good job of simulating a gun then it would look like a gun and so would be illegal to own without keeping under lock and key.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to do my morning rounds where I go around the neighborhood and count how many unarmed families were murdered by home invaders last night.

It's regional. At a huge family reunion in Tennessee, a cousin from the Atlanta branch of the family was appalled at how loud the Chicagoans were. "We Southerners are much more genteel"

The difference is; Southerners will talk about you behind your back, whereas Chicagoans will insult you to your face.

Americans go to fashionable restaurants to be seen. It helps to be heard if you want to be seen.

Americans are narcissists.

Is loudness a function of whether there is background music in the restaurant? Whether background music is something you would expect or not expect in a country's restaurants.

Hearing loss is relatively common in military families. Guns, power tools, lawn equipment, sirens and alarms. So much stimuli that can accelerate loss.

As a highly sensitive person, I carry a few sets of foam earplugs with me.

Which is why it is so odd that the Left has such problems with legalizing suppressors.

Well, this hard left group - so hard left they still call them silencers - also has problems with suppressors - 'We write to you today as a coalition of law enforcement professionals who come together around a common cause: to urge our elected officials to take commonsense action to end the gun violence epidemic in the United States. In that vein, we write this letter to urge you to oppose the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE Act), H.R. 3668, as well as the Hearing Protection Act, H.R. 367/S. 59, all of which would remove firearm silencers from regulation under the National Firearms Act of 1934. These reckless proposals would make it
significantly easier for criminals or individuals seeking to harm others to obtain these deadly firearms, making communities across the United States less safe.'

Could you guys take this discussion someplace dedicated to this sort of thing?

Open space and nation of immigrants, these two factors describe Canada as well. But Canadians are popularly viewed as polite. They certainly aren't loud.

When did the "ugly American" stereotype arise? That may help to provide an answer.

Their speech has so little content per 100 words that they compensate by using volume.

Were earlier generations of Americans, some of whom spoke attractive, terse American English, quite so bloody noisy?

My two cents as an American living in Austria. It is not so much that Americans are "loud" but that many Europeans try to be very quiet in public spaces. Many times I've been sitting in a street car and had my wife or a friend turn to me and say "there's the American" as a conversation held in a normal tone of voice half a car away cuts through the air like a knife. It is the same in restaurant and cafe settings. My take is that Europeans try not to attract attention to themselves in public, especially Eastern Europeans, but that Americans are completely unselfconscious. Americans don't seem to make the "public" vs. "private" distinction as strongly as most Europeans or Asians do.

Ugly Americans: I think the stereotype began after WWII when lots of newly affluent Americans were visiting newly impoverished Europe.

Selection bias could be who's being observed (tourists under travel stress; group behavior) or where they're being observed (restaurants with higher density or lower acoustic dampening; tourist areas).

Personally, my guess is that we have a society with lots of TV, dual working parents, and shrinking family sizes that strongly reinforces extrovert and "first child" values, and the loudness and assertiveness is both more tolerated and rewarded. Those individuals show up more. And, over time, they tend to change norms. (Pushiness is rewarded, thoughtful reticence comes in second at best.)

At the same time, we are chronically ashamed of appearing elite or well educated so the "quiet, well bred" models are disappearing. Jackie O is dead, Trump is President.

Other places aren't perfect, of course.

There are regional differences. Having lived in Florida and California, Florida, particularly Miami, is the loudest. It’s the Cubans’ fault. They’re the loudest in the world.

I'm with the hard of hearing argument. Not just because I'm older. All of us who listened (or made) loud music in the 60s and 70s have had the beginnins of hearing problems since we were in our 20s.

Our music was loud and still is. That does the damage and you don't have to be old for it to affect you.

Perhaps it is an auditory illusion caused by the pronunciation of American English? Consider that perceived loudness in music is not always due to volume but to other dynamic qualities. Maybe something similar is going on.

Remember that when British rock-n-rollers wanted to sing loudly they adopted American accents. Quieter sounding British singers, e.g., Morrissey, Billy Bragg, sing in British accents, but not Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey or Mick Jagger.

Meh, in Southern Brazil we are much louder than Americans. But yes, I guess new world sparsely populated nations tend to be louder than densely populated old-world nations. Just because higher population density implies in higher externalities from being loud.

Hearing loss from exercising our second amendment rights. I love the sound of my AR-15, except that I can barely hear it any more.

Americans aren’t actually louder that, say, Italians. Every country has the ruder, lower classes, but the American lower classes are actually wealthy enough to travel, thus the perception. That’s my wild-ass-guess anyway.

Yeah that's one of my explanations for the ignorant American stereotype: America is so rich it that even ignorant people can afford to travel around. Another (more sensible) explanation is that Americans live in a big country and so have comparatively little contact with the rest of the world while Europeans and most people outside of US/Brazil/China live in smaller countries and so have constant contact with different cultures and languages.

I spend a fair amount of time in Italy, less in Germany. Americans are loud - but God preserve me from a UK bacherlotte party! Or drunken Welshmen! Or a group of Spaniards singing. Oh, my, the Spaniards sing. Russians on busses? I have actually moved seats this week to avoid Slavic shouting across the aisle. Italians like to hold their cell phones horizontally about 3 inches in front of their mouths and shout into the microphone.

My first time traveling internationally was to Greece. I got out of the airport and directly onto a bus to downtown Athens, which was filled with the local populi. I have never, ever, ever heard such screaming, before or since.

America is a nation of immigrants, as we all know. So when you rip into Americans, what you are really doing is ripping into non-Americans.

And for that, you can go f*** yourselves, racists.

(Drops mike, exits.)

People are quiet in Vermont, where I live. A recent trip to Chicago reminded me of this; the restaurants and diners were high-volume. Huge contrast.

My observation from visiting Asia a lot is that Americans abroad are not uniquely loud. The Chinese are often much louder. And among Europeans the Germans are often much louder and boisterous than Americans in SE Asian beaches. Ditto for Eastern Europeans.

But yes, Americans are often louder in all Western environments in which Europeans in particular will notice the difference.

Americans are immature and theatrical, petulant and vaudevillian. They are thoroughly rotten. When you live in a market society where your only options are cruelty or cowardice, your very existence becomes a piece of noise pollution.

"Americans" is a broad category. When I was a kid growing up in the South, it always seemed weird how loud my Yankee relatives were when they would stop for a visit on their way to Florida.

I went on a trip on a cruise ship that must have been running a special for people from New York and New Jersey. Those people seemed incapable of having a normal conversation with indoor voices. It was like everyone was Murray from The Goldbergs.

There's a lowest common denominator effect in communication in multicultural environments. Different cultures have different average volumes, different average delay between conversation turns, etc. In a mixed environment, we will tend towards the loudest level set by the participants and, I would guess, the shortest conversational turns. That, or we just don't participate meaningfully in mixed conversations because people are talking over us all the time.

"Why are Americans so loud?" - Christine Lagarde interview

A point that Graham Robb makes in "The Discovery of France", as you know, is that peasants were much louder than townspeople. They spoke less but loudly, with conversational tones developed across fields and other outdoor workspaces. Is this characteristic vanished from Europe or merely invisible to travelers as it has virtually always been?

Although (or because) Americans have a lot of space - big yards, big streets, big houses, etc - we don't spend a lot of time outdoors, where loud talking makes the most sense. Nor, in my experience, are Americans more likely than people in other countries to maintain constant background noise in their homes (TV or radio). By contrast, homes I've spent time in across the Arab world have TV on all the time, and it's not quiet. In the US, I've encountered the blaring-background-TV most often in homes of immigrants and less-educated Americans.

Personally, I'd question the hypothesis that Americans are louder than others. Tourists always seem loud because they *talk*. The rest of us on public transit are alone and quiet; tourists are often in groups of 5 or 10, and they have conversations involving their whole group. Other groups are equally loud but comparatively rare.

If we are reduced to explaining why (whether?) Americans are specifically loud in their own restaurants, then we've got a hopelessly overidentified question. Maybe we're loud because the food is not worth paying attention to.

It would be useful to know if this correlates in any way with hearing loss (speaking as an old guy whose hearing was wrecked by a mis-spent youth in white noisy equipment rooms, and loud hobbies pursued without hearing protection).

My wife is originally from East Germany, and when we were first dating and meeting in the cafeteria in college, she would often tone down her voice, especially as the volume increased around us. I would strain harder and harder to hear her, edging my ear closer and closer. I eventually just started admitting that I couldn't hear what she was saying.

She looked at me indignantly and spat, "What, I should just speak louder?"

I looked at her in all sincerity and said, "Yes."

Of course, it turns out that her norm was that it's horribly rude to be overheard. And, growing up in East Germany, it was also dangerous, so everyone spoke quietly about everything. As people around her spoke more loudly, her mind heard it people being closer, and immediately reacted by speaking even quieter, because the risk of being overheard was greater.

However, in America, there's another norm we don't often discuss. It's rude to whisper to others in front of people. By extension, if you're speaking in a way that you can't be potentially overheard, it suggests you're being shady and saying something you shouldn't. Thus, Americans speak at a volume by which they can be potentially overheard, to signal that they aren't saying (or thinking) anything bad.

So, when faced with a given noise level, the American instinct is to at least match it. In at least my wife's case (and, I would expect, throughout Northern Europe and many cities), the instinct is to stay below that level. Thus, Americans seem loud.

True-particularly about the concepts of space and confidence. However, we have nothing on the Chinese. Last weekend I was in a quiet little Middle Eastern restaurant that didn't have music playing and there were just 3 other tables occupied yet these 2 young women were hitting the high parts of the decibel scale-it was off the charts and unreal-and they were completely oblivious to it. And this is far from the first time I have encountered this.

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