Have a Nice Day, How are you? etc.

John Lennon   Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:08 pm GMT
"All we need is love"

Well, thank you Humble.
Damian in Edinburgh   Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:18 pm GMT
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. You will never, ever see a waiter or waitress come waltzing up to you with a frozen smile and saying: "Hi, I'm Shaun/Sharon and I'm your waiter/waitress for this morning/afternoon/evening!" It just doesn't happen over here because it doesn't go down too well and for the simple reason we think it's just a wee bit OTT maple syrupy yukky, and besises, our waiting staff are not anything like as dependent on tips, which is the main incentive behind the American approach I would reckon. Correct me if I'm wrong, as I've never yet crossed the Atlantic....I go on hearsay.
Benny   Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:29 pm GMT
Once in the UK I went to dinner with a friend and his wife. We were in Luton. The entire time we ate the waiter stood next to our table to be ready to respond to our every need or whim. When we left my friend say that was very unusual and was due to the fact that my accent gave me away as American and the waiters (there were actually two of them standing by our table) knew about the American custom of overtipping (by UK standards).

On the other hand, the taxi driver who took us home at the end of a long night of drinking and partaking of herbal recreation, charged us more because he heard my accent.
Skippy   Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:41 pm GMT
I'm always sincere when I said "have a nice day." I said that twice today! lol I said it to the girl that served me my buffalo wings at lunch and to the lady at the front desk when I paid my rent today.

A little politeness never hurt :-P Consequently, is this why whenever I ask someone how to say "have a nice day" in a different language, I'm always greeted with a blank stare?
Benny   Wed Jul 02, 2008 12:44 am GMT
<<Consequently, is this why whenever I ask someone how to say "have a nice day" in a different language, I'm always greeted with a blank stare?>>

I have definitely heard French people say "Passe une bonne journee!" and have heard native speakers of Spanish say "Que le vaye bien" (go well). I don't see a qualatative difference between the French and Spanish polite phrases and the American version.
Guest   Wed Jul 02, 2008 12:52 am GMT
There is also the phrase "Que tengas un buen dia" in Spanish.
Skippy   Wed Jul 02, 2008 1:32 am GMT
I have heard "tiene un buen dia" or something of the like before, but in general it seems other languages don't really use this expression (at least with frequency).
Guest   Wed Jul 02, 2008 1:37 am GMT
It is used with frequency in Spanish as far as I know, at least among acquaintances. For example, when you hang up you can say "bueno, un abrazo, que tengas un buen día".
Skippy   Wed Jul 02, 2008 2:34 am GMT
But to the lady who bags your groceries?
Laura Braun   Wed Jul 02, 2008 1:17 pm GMT
There are so many polite ways to say Hello. I do prefer polite way. It's a matter of culture. For example if you walk on the streets in US and you are not smilling someone could stop and to ask you if everything is OK. I do like positive attitude of americans. To hear 'How are you ' it's a polite way to say 'Hello', it's polite way to start coversation. It's everything.
In arabic world people start conversation with 'Keef haalek, kif saha', el hamdulalah. which means : "How are you doing , how is your health, God bless you.
In Brazil polite way to say hello is 'Bon Djia', but how much meaning there is in such words.
So if you asked me about politeness I can truly tell you : It all depends on culture, people.
I do prefer that than someone to curse me . Believe me.
Damian in Edinburgh   Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:20 pm GMT
***But to the lady who bags your groceries?***

That's a thing Americans find missing in the UK.....supermarket staff at the checkouts automatically packing all your shopping as it glides along the conveyor belt. Here in the UK as soon as it's your turn for checkout the operator will ask if you need help with your packing and then s/he will press a button, a red light will start flashing and, with a bit of luck and a favourable wind, an assistant will appear like a genie out of a bottle ready to do the stuff for you - it isn't an automatic thing as it is in America. And all checkout operators here are seated at their tills, and not standing as they are in the USA.

I worked as a checkout operator at a huge supermarket in Leeds for a time while I was at uni there, and we were told not to engage customers in conversation but to be always "polite and helpful at all times". Which I invariably was, difficult as it was at times as dealing with the public ina very busy environment is one hell of a trial some of the time as some people can be incredibly rude, while others are like dreams come true. You wouldn't believe how strange some people can be - believe you me when I say that! And also incredibly funny - in a comical way! And also incredibly sexy.......it's amazing how eyes and facial expressions can speak louder than any spoken Language! ;-) They call that flirting as if you didn't know.

Never once did I say "Have a Nice Day". I reckon the British equivalents would be the much more widely used "Take care! "or "See you next time" or just simply "Bye" (especially to older people).To people more my own age "Cheers!" is sufficient over here. You have to use your discretion - it depends who it was you were waving off towards the exit doors.
Gabriel   Wed Jul 02, 2008 7:54 pm GMT
<<It is used with frequency in Spanish as far as I know, at least among acquaintances. For example, when you hang up you can say "bueno, un abrazo, que tengas un buen día". >>

But I wouldn't say it to an assistant in a shop/store (nor would I expect it from them).
Benny   Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:54 pm GMT
<<The American "Have a nice day!" thing DOES come over as very insincere to the British.>>

I think it's probably not so much the verbiage itself as much as the fact that an American is saying it that irks the British. Damien am I off base here? Honestly, in this climate is there anything that an American does abroad that isn't interpreted as annoying by Europeans, even if it's something that they themselves do? The biggest deals are made over the way we hold our eating utensils and the shoes we wear. Meanwhile certain other groups are murdering Dutch filmmakers for making documentaries critical of Islam and I've never heard a European complain about it. Militant Moslems have rioted in the streets and *burned down buildings* over the images of Muhammad in a Danish newpaper, and we hear Europeans complaining that Americans *take pictures of buildings*. Europeans love to tell us how fat and it's obvious that bigotry toward fat people is fine in Europe but Americans are constantly told what bigots we are. So I think the issue with a lot of this is the current anti-American climate in Europe.

We hear a lot about the "ugly American" abroad and I've personally seen Americans behaving badly while on vacation. I've seen Americans (to my utter embarassment) trying to convince a shop keeper in Paris to accept American money. And the Americans were wearing cowboy hats. Funny and embarassing at the same time. So I can see some of the root causes of the bad reputation we have abroad. But the virtiole seems out of proportion given the nature of the offenses.

Take Damien for example. He seems like a genuinely good guy and all of his posts are not only interesting but educational. Even Damien, open minded as he is, cannot help being annoyed by an American saying "have a nice day".

Bottom line: We're fucked no matter what we say.
Guest   Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:08 pm GMT
We get plenty of ugly foreigners causing us trouble here in America.
Wintereis   Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:28 pm GMT
<<We get plenty of ugly foreigners causing us trouble here in America>>

I second that. Indeed, the lack of polite phrases may be why Europeans have such a bad reputation for being rude and arrogant. I don’t think they understand what is considered acceptable to say and what is not. There are some other problems along these lines. But most, as with most Americans, are well meaning despite how they behave. Today for instance, I was at a public park swimming with my nieces and nephews, when a very loud and angry sounding Russian began yelling across the lake at his children. In the U.S. it is considered very rude to yell and argue publicly.