Among the English, about one’s own private doings is reserved for intimates; gossip about the private lives of friends and family is shared with a slightly wider social circle; gossip about the personal affairs of , colleagues and neighbours with a larger group; and gossip about the intimate details of public figures’ or celebrities’ lives with almost anyone. This is the rule. The more ‘distant’ from you the subject of gossip, the wider the circle of people with whom you may gossip about that person.
在英國人當中,個人隱私一般只在親密朋友之間討論;關于朋友及其家人的一些瑣事也只會在稍微寬一點的社交圈子里討論;熟人軼事、同事以及鄰居等話題可以在更廣的社交圈子里談論;如果是某位名人的個人隱私,那么絕對是街知巷聞。這就是社交距離的規則。當你和談論對象的距離越遠時,你就會和更大的社交圈子的人談論他們的事。

The distance rule allows gossip to perform its vital social functions – social ; of position and status; assessment and management of reputations; of social skills, norms and values – without undue invasion of privacy. More importantly, it also allows nosey-parker anthropologists to formulate their prying questions in such a roundabout manner as to bypass the privacy rules.
社交距離規則有助于八卦在社會中發揮重要作用——建立社會關系;澄清觀點和地位;認同和管理個人的名譽;傳播社會技巧和社會術語以及社會價值觀。更重要的是,這些談資也讓那些喜歡窺探別人隱私的社會學家巧妙地達到目的,同時不侵犯別人的隱私。

If, for example, you want to find out about an English person’s attitudes and feelings on a sensitive subject, such as, say, marriage, you do not ask about his or her own marriage – you talk about someone else’s marriage, preferably that of a remote public figure not personally known to either of you. When you are better acquainted with the person, you can discuss the domestic difficulties of a colleague or neighbour, or perhaps even a friend or relative. (If you do not have colleagues or relatives with suitably marriages, you can always invent these people.)
但是,如果你想了解一個英國人關于某項敏感的話題,比如說婚姻,那么你就不能直接詢問他自己的婚姻,而應該嘗試談論其他人的婚姻,最好是那些彼此都認識的名人的婚姻。當你和此人更熟后,你可以和他談論一些身邊同事或者鄰居的家事,乃至是親友的問題也無妨。(如果你的同事或者親戚沒有不正常的婚姻,你可以編造一些人。)