Have a Nice Day, How are you? etc.

Guest   Sun Jun 29, 2008 3:03 pm GMT
Im under the impression that these phrases are the American equivalent of the false politeness we find in some of the Middle Eastern cultures (I think they have an official word for it in Arabic). And I'm also under the impression that the Brits do't use these as much, if at all.

Can anyone comment and give some examples of "polite American expressions" that stand out as particularly silly for Brits?
Skippy   Sun Jun 29, 2008 7:12 pm GMT
Anyone? I actually want to hear some responses to this one.
Guest   Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:27 pm GMT
1. "you're VERY welcome"

2. anything that starts with "could you"
Guest   Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:42 pm GMT
How is it "false" politeness? Politeness is just that, politeness.
Guest   Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:44 pm GMT
"Thank you"

Westerners say this so many times in a day, but I'm curious as to how many people who say it actually say it with true politeness.
Guest   Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:51 pm GMT
"How is it "false" politeness? Politeness is just that, politeness. "

i think ur so into falst politeness that now u dont even know what true politeness is.
superficially, true and false politeness might seem similar to each other, but on the inner side, they are very different.
people who do with true politeness say it with heart..
others who do it with false politeness might seem like they do it with heart but actually their heart is not very different from the heart of impolite people..
Benny   Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:04 pm GMT
<<Westerners say this so many times in a day, but I'm curious as to how many people who say it actually say it with true politeness.>>

I think if someone does you a kindness and you *don't* say thank you, you have a problem.

I've lived in a few Western European countries as well as the US and I think "Thank you" (or merci or danke, etc) was universal and I never felt it was insincere. Then again, I've never lived in an Eastern country, where perhaps it's felt mroe deeply when it's said.
Guest   Mon Jun 30, 2008 11:15 pm GMT
Well, in what instances would you consider it "false" to say "thank you"?

If I go to a shop and the lady at the counter goes through and packs my bags and add up the money and gives me my change, I think it's legitimate to thank her for that, don't you?
Skippy   Mon Jun 30, 2008 11:56 pm GMT
I think the tendency is because (I can really only speak for Americans) we say this so frequently for minute things that it comes off as incensere to foreigners, but when it is said, it is sincere.

Maybe it's just a translation issue that is never really covered... For example, Americans say "sorry" even if something was there fault (my German friend told me she bumped into an American on the street and the American said "sorry" and thought this was strange and off-putting). My German professor told our class that we say "es tut mir leid" too much and is reserved for more intense situations than the English "sorry" and is more akin to English "Oh my God, I'm SOOO sorry" or something like that (she did it with a valley girl accent, which made it funny for us, just kind of a boring anecdote for ya'll. sorry lol)
Guest   Tue Jul 01, 2008 12:17 am GMT
So what's the issue then? English has its own way of expressing 'sincere' feelings, the phrases are just skewed a bit...
Dieter   Tue Jul 01, 2008 12:35 am GMT
<<If I go to a shop and the lady at the counter goes through and packs my bags and add up the money and gives me my change, I think it's legitimate to thank her for that, don't you?>>

No, because she has done her job. Nothing more. I would think she would thank me for allowing her to do this thing in order that she should remain employed. To say "thank you" to her would be demeaning to me, therefore I could never say it with any degree of sincerety. So I don't say it. I think this is primarily an American obsession, to pretend that all is egalitarian and engage in silly chitchat with people in lower stations to demonstrate the equality, but maybe also to pretend that you are fond of someone who is serving you. This is probably because Americans are uncormfortable with having a natural order of superior and subordinates. Likely this discomfort is due to slavery, segregationist laws and they have an innate understanding of the exploitation by the ultra rich in the US. To compensate they use false modesty with subordinates and even the managers in an office insist to be addressed on a first name basis by the staff to demonstrate that there is no difference, when in reality the difference is substantially large and disproportionate. Thus the mind set is reflected in the language! I don't know if the British have the same conecpts but I think it is less so in the UK.
Skippy   Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:30 am GMT
That kind of thinking is very strange to Americans, though. I suppose it's a kind of encouragement or something... I always thank waiters and waitresses when they give me my food, drink, extra sauce, napkins, etc. even though they're simply "doing their job."
Guest   Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:46 am GMT
But you don't get it. In America it is normal to say these things, and if someone doesn't it is rude. Saying these things is equivalent to saying nothing in other countries, saying nothing is equivalent to glaring at the worker or insulting them in the other countries.
Meg   Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:02 am GMT
"Have a nice day" is definitely a yankism, and an extremely grating one at that.

Of course you should say "thank you" to shop assistants etc. That is simply good manners, a disappearing concept
Humble   Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:37 pm GMT
What a nice discussion topic for a group of learners of English! I mean at school or at college.
I am shocked by Dieter's cynicism.
All "how are you"s and "thank you"s perform the phatic function of the language.
It's not much of a sacrifice to show you are friendly. I don't see any hypocrisy in it. All we need is love. The more love you give, the more you get. Sorry if I sound histrionical (I hate the theatre).
It's not an American obsession, politeness is appreciated all over the world - look at the Japanese, who never stop nodding and bowing.

Oh ... have I fallen for a hoax?