why do so many ppl in western culture say "thank you&qu
without actually meaning it?
even if they are not sorry or thankful they say "thank you" or "sorry"
why do they do this like robots?
i think words like "thank you" and "sorry" should be said only if you truly feel it.
I can't speak for "western culture" but Americans do this simply because NOT saying it is seen as rude. Perhaps it's cultural. One of my German friends actually gave me a hard time about saying "excuse me" to someone who bumped into me while we were walking.
In my opinion, I do this because I would rather someone think I overuse please, thank you, etc. rather than underuse it. I was also brought up to say "yes ma'am" and "yes sir," but this is often viewed as impolite in the northern US. For example, saying "yes ma'am" to anyone in the South would be viewed as a simple polite gesture, where in the North there are many folks who would consider it offensive, "Are you saying I'm old?" would be a stereotypical response.
This is a huge generalization. Furthermore, how do you know they do not mean it?
You should also keep in mind that many of us were taught manners and how to behave in public at an early age. Saying "thank you" and apologizing is considered polite in most Western cultures.
If we do not appreciate something, what do you propose that we say in return? Ignoring a person (whether you appreciate their advice/gift/etc. or not) is generally considered rude.
>>I can't speak for "western culture" but Americans do this simply because NOT saying it is seen as rude. Perhaps it's cultural. One of my German friends actually gave me a hard time about saying "excuse me" to someone who bumped into me while we were walking.
The same for Chinese around me. It seems like some Northerners don't say anything at all when they bump into someone they don't know, or when they ask the way through, they just say "let me through" without "please", which could be highly offensive for many HK Chinese, for example.
But the general trend would be favouring the use of such words as please, thank you, sorry (excuse me) and so on. Our etiquette is becoming similar to your description about the American.
btw: people ask a million times, but my standard answer about tongzhi is people rarely use it now for colleagues, friends, and strangers. After the (terribly long) communist "fads", our culture is back to the pseudo-collectivistic mode - but even more so, many of us are actually more individualistic, somehow to the extent of getting self-isolated. I'd say this trend could be healthy, as my western inclincation goes, but could be harmful as social over-distancing. I'm short of words, so do correct me this time
Westerners are polite? What about the Japanese? I think it's not a matter of East/West but rather country to country. Even city to city, and especially city to rural.
When you live in a big city you bump into 100 people a day, so it would get tiresome to be continuously saying 'sorry', but if you live in a village bumping into someone is probably the highlight of the day...
>>a big city you bump into 100 people a day<<
I'd get stronger glasses....
This topic is an amusing one! I know that many Continentals when in the UK think that Brits go just a little over the top with the "sorry" thing, and I think they're right when you really think about it. We in the UK tend not to think about it much as it's just sort of "automatic" - I mean, in what other country outside of this one would YOU apologize to someone else who had accidentally bumped into YOU? The "victim" apologises to the "perpetrator!! You see it all the time, like someone barging their trolley into yours at the supermarket and YOU apologise along with the reckless "driver". I mean, come on - that's just silly, isn't it? But it's what happens all the time - especially in England, I find. We Scots tend to be a little bit more sensible and the "injured party" merely waits for the "guilty party" to say "sorry"!
I think that the Continentals have it easy - neither party apologises most of the time, anyway. :-) And in Germany, especially, along with a fair few other Continental countries, if not all, queues as we know them here are virtually unknown (or "standing in line" as the Americans say) and it's simply a case of pushing and shoving to the front, so it's pretty much a case of the survival of the fittest across the Channel I reckon. :-)
But we tend to do just that during the Sales after Christmas and the New Year when "common courtesies" vanish in the haze of the post Hogmanay festivities in the rush to get at the bargains first!
Before anyone accuses me of being "anti-Continentals" (far from the truth) what I have said about them in this post is based solely on casual observation, but as I say, Brits (especially the English, and especially the Southern English) DO tend to say "sorry" when it's not appropriate for them to do so.
<<I mean, in what other country outside of this one would YOU apologize to someone else who had accidentally bumped into YOU?>>
the United States of America
I like saying sorry to strangers because it's the only human contact I get.
Ah, are you referring to the contact you get by bumping into them?
>>I know that many Continentals when in the UK think that Brits go just a little over the top with the "sorry" thing
I wouldn't think too if someone bumps into me when I think I'm bumping into him/her. But for me, that would be a problem of my insanely quick pace of living. Like in your case, I wouldn't even look at that stranger but say sorry automatically. (so yeah, blame myself and blame the world for that)
A common myth among many of my people is: many of them, and particularly and almost exclusively young people, are so competent (academically) that they can beat most people when they emigrate, like if they study in your country. Why? Unlike others, they have the money; but like others, they have been living in an insanely competitive society (but not in all fields.. that would be a bit too much) with the worst conditions. I wouldn't hesitate to save every single split second for this sorry ritual...
I think could be terribly irritated (and find it difficult to used to) to live in a more normal society where I can do things more slowly. LOL
Sorry, I didn't realise this question was repeated (the author has posted it twice) so I answered on the other thread. Here's my answer again:
Language use is generally very conventional - it has to be or we would not be able to understand each other. Pragmatics and linguistic politeness in particular are extremely conventionalised, so if I don't follow the cultural norm, I might easily offend someone.
Also, I think many people don't understand the whole meaning of a word like 'sorry'. Of course, 'sorry' can mean I really regret something I did, but it is also used (in British English at least) if I want to get someone's attention, to indicate that I'm about to say something especially when interupting, to get someone to move out of the way, to express sympathy and to smooth over a difficult situation. If you interact with people in a language and you decide not to follow these kind of customs you can come across as very rude or even cause a lot of trouble for yourself.
By the way, many languages (not just Western ones) use conventional apologies / thanks (I won't say most as I don't have the data, but I suspect it is true for most). I'm currently learning Japanese for example, which makes linguistic politeness in English or French seem like baby talk.