Have a Nice Day, How are you? etc.
Benny: Nice of you to say what you did - many thanks.
Please remember this - any country which is seen to be a "leader nation" (as the USA has undoubtedly been for a long time now) is bound to come in for some stick from everyone else on the planet, a lot of it unjustifiably, often for a variety of motives. It's not worth getting wound up over, not that you are anyway I reckon.
Britain has been through the same thing in the days of "ruling the waves", and in many ways it still gets stick from the rest of Europa.
I'm calling it Europa from now on - I think it's a suitable name for the ever expanding EU, don't you? Europe covers all, Europa covers all EU member States. I think we should have an EU referendum to establish an official name, with Europa being the most obvious choice.
The EU has now virtually reached its capacity of all European countries, with just a couple of mavericks still holding back - Switzerland and Norway....and possibly Iceland.....serene little islands of "blissful independence".
I reckon Turkey's application to join should be refused on the grounds that it isn't a wholly European country anyway, the vast majority of it is in Asia, is it not? Its culture has very little in common with that of Europe anyway. If Turkey joins, then why not Israel, could be the argument there...definitely not on.....we must stick within European geographical boundaries.
Did you know that a new Language has developed? It's called Ponglish, and it is gaining strength in both the UK and Poland. Poles living here have coined new Ponglish words and phrases, currently gaining strength in the UK, and the increasng numbers of Poles returning to the rapidly economically and prosperously developing Poland, recently made an EU member State, are speaking Ponglish back in their homeland.
Already Brits are beginning to drink "wodka" rather than "vodka"....... :-)
<<Did you know that a new Language has developed? It's called Ponglish>>
Damien, good points all. And your Ponglish is very Clockwork Orange-esque!
<<Britain has been through the same thing in the days of "ruling the waves", and in many ways it still gets stick from the rest of Europa.>>
It has always seemed to me that the French in particular have an inferiority complex via a vis the British.
Why do the French have an inferiority complex to the British?
<<Did you know that a new Language has developed? It's called Ponglish>>
Damian probably meant Pomglish, which is common in England, and understood in Australia, but not known elsewhere.
No, it's definitely PONGLISH. I've heard it for myself, as the Poles are a very social lot. I really like them. Pomglish is the Language spoken by the Aussie barstewards (putting it politely) over here ;-)
As for the French - maybe they do have a suppressed inferiority complex of some kind vis a vis the Brits - I don't know why. Maybe it's because English has surpassed French on the world scene...that's all I can think of. In reality, it's a superiority complex which the French generally "suffer" from, and if you travel round France, outside of Paris, especially out into the countryside and absorb some aspects of their pleasant lifestyle, then you can understand just why they may feel they are superior! The Brits realise it, which is why much of rural France has been invaded by (mainly retired) Brits taking up residence and even becoming local mayors in some areas, and give these Brits their due many have made concerted efforts to learn and speak French, most probably at the insistence of the locals! And good for them - both parties, in fact.
I think that people who complain about "false politeness" are trying to rationalize their own bad manners.
DAMIAN: "The American "Have a nice day!" thing DOES come over as very insincere to the British. There's no doubt about that. There's also no doubt, in the minds of Brits over there, that any shop/store assistant's parting words of "Have a nice day!" pretty much covers up the fact that, in reality, they couldn't give a rat's arse what sort of day they end up having. ;-)
Any shop/store assistant in the UK wishing a parting customer that sort of thing would be met with either total indifference or a quizzical smirk and an equally insincere response back.
The same goes for waiters and waitresses in restaurants in the UK..."
Damian, I think you're very badly mistaken on this one.
Perceiving "have a nice day" or "thank you" as insincere is probably natural to a citizen of a cynical country.
But it's quite natural to a citizen from a warm, optimistic country. I submit to you that much of the time--perhaps MOST of the time--the wishes of goodwill are genuine.
We inherited a lot from the British--the system of law, many of the customs, even the food--but did not inherit the inherent cynicism that seems to dominate the British character.
I work directly with the public, and I'm here to tell you that I'm nice to the customers because I WANT to be.
I think you are bang on right, Jasper. Cynicism is indeed a less attractive aspect of the British character, and in a way probably accounts for the tendency of British humour to be a wee bit sarcastic, and also subtle in the sense that it can be seen to be insulting, which it may well be. This usually goes under the name of irony. Doesn't really sound too nice, does it, but there you go. On the other hand, Brits also tend to be self deprecatory, and can laugh just as much at themselves as at other people in a way very few, if any, Americans would.
Another trait of the Brits (more especially the English, that's for sure) - and this is very much reflected in the media - is the apparent desire to undermine anyone whom they see has being " successful" in any way. It's as if they need to be brought down a peg or two because they have "become too big for their boots". It happens so often in most of the UK media - if someone reaches the top of their own particular tree, and is seen to be doing really, really well in their field, they immediately try to find ways and means of launching some kind of character assassination.....suddenly negatives are sought out in order to counteract all the positives.
I may be wrong here, but I don't think I am, that that is one major difference between the British and the American way of doing things generally. The British are usually the most ardent critics of themselves and their country than just about anyone else, again most unlike the Americans and their own self perception.
It's just an observation, and we all really do end each day knowing just that little bit more about the world than we did when we got out of bed that morning!
"I may be wrong here, but I don't think I am, that that is one major difference between the British and the American way of doing things generally."
I quite agree.
I find it intriguing that Britain, which is America's mother country, shares with it so much--but doesn't share the sunny, optimistic zeitgeist. I can understand why "thank you" and "have a nice day" seems insincere to a Brit, when in fact it's genuine most of the time.
It's also clearly understandable why British people have so hard a time adapting. Be that as it may, there are many 1000s of British expatriates in the US who don't ever go back; all the Brits I've ever met are still here, despite their incessant complaining....
Damian, after pondering the notion further, I have come up with a couple of insights.
It seems that Brits (and Europeans in general) don't like the "false politeness" of salesclerks at first. But after living here a few years--five years seems to be the cutoff point--those Europeans begin to change, even though they don't consciously realize it. They begin to expect the same customer service everywhere, and are badly shocked when they go back to their home country.
This recently happened with a Lithuanian coworker of mine. Previously, she never missed a chance to diss America, but after returning from a visit to Lithuania, she regaled us with tales of the cold, indifferent, even rude treatment of the salesclerks there. There was the tale about her attempt to return a rotten fish, for example. In the US, they'll give you a refund or exchange with no questions asked; in much of Europe, you'd have to go into war footing to get a refund.
It intrigues me how people can change without consciously realizing it.
Damian, I'm not normally a flag-waver; in fact, the notion normally makes me cringe. But, in spite of our myriad problems as a nation, I really believe we have the best customer service situation in the world.
Jasper, of course you're "nice" because you "want to". In your environment, not wishing every person that leaves the store "a nice day" could be construed as a sign of impoliteness. Naturally, you want to be perceived as well-adjusted, polite and civil, so you go along with the crowd and recite those words to strangers. The whole point of the thread was, however, that the perception of politeness is a culture-dependent phenomenon. If the environment was different, to be well-adjusted and civil, you'd simply have to keep your mouth shut.
I don't think we can classify nations and cultures as cynical or cheerful based on what a shop assistant says or doesn't say to you when you're leaving the shop/store. I have been in the US for four years and I have seen my share of cynicism and bleakness.
I'm ashamed to say, though, that once I was leaving a store and the clerk failed to use the odious phrase, and I inexplicably found myself uttering those words at her! The pressure to conform and the force of habit are indeed strong.
"I don't think we can classify nations and cultures as cynical or cheerful based on what a shop assistant says or doesn't say to you when you're leaving the shop/store. I have been in the US for four years and I have seen my share of cynicism and bleakness. "
Why, of course, Gabriel! We all have our moods; we are all cynical at some time or another.
My contention that Americans are warm and optimistic isn't just based on salesclerk behavior, however; it's a widely held, widely adopted notion. You'll hear it quite often when world affairs are discussed.
Gabriel, I detected a touch of disbelief with my notion that I was nice because I wanted to be, but it's the honest truth. While not wishing to be perceived as bragging, I really do go overboard with friendliness at times; you could probably blame my Southern upbringing. We get 250 or 300 days of sun here in Nevada; that's a good enough reason right there to be in a good mood.
If I greet a Scotsman in an elevator with "If I might ask, where are you from?", my next comment might be,"I would like to welcome you to America; if there's anything we can do to make your stay more pleasant, please let us know." My sentiments are genuine, and my statements are responded to with an ear-to-ear grin and a "thank you" from the Scotsman.
I would only ask that you not be so distrustful of people. ;-)
<<Jasper, of course you're "nice" because you "want to". In your environment, not wishing every person that leaves the store "a nice day" could be construed as a sign of impoliteness.>>
I definitely got the impression from Jasper's post that he says "have a nice day" not because it's expected of him but because he sincerely means it.... in other words he genuinely hopes the person will have a nice day. For Gabriel to insist that it's only because Jasper's culture expects him to say this is presumptious as you (Gabriel) are negating his own stated motives and inserting what you *believe* to be his motiviation. I think Jasper would know better than you or I why he says thank you and have a nice day when customers leave his store.
Benny, that's correct; I really do mean it most of the time.
Of course, there are times when I'm down, that I say that because I "have to", but that's not very often.
What's curious in this whole discussion is the notion that the sentiment is "false"; are non-Americans distrustful by nature? (People from behind the former Iron Curtain certainly are, but that's understandable).