Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Trend setting Professor Krugman

Just now, as I write this, on the Rachel Maddows show guest host Alison Stewart started her interview with Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman by thanking him for coming on the show. Professor Krugman responded, ‘Sure.’

That caught my attention because a few weeks ago someone wrote into either Dear Abby or Ann Landers complaining that some young people today have no manners because they do not respond to ‘Thank you’ with the polite and proper response of ‘Your welcome.’ That got me thinking about why that is the only correct response. There is no objective reason why the words ‘your’ and ‘welcome’ are any more appropriate a response to a statement of thanks than any other word or phrase. It is just something we have all agreed to. There is no reason we couldn’t or shouldn’t undo that agreement and agree on something else.

For reasons that I cannot explain I would love for ‘You betcha’ to become the new polite and correct response to ‘Thank you.’ But if Nobel Prize winners are going around responding ‘Sure,’ then I suppose that response has the best chance of being adopted as the new standard . Oh well.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Dave,
I agree that there is a problem when some “etiquette experts” think that there should be a standard, unthinking response to an expression of thanks. The reasons we say “thank you” to someone can range from thanking a total stranger who holds the door to saying “thank you” to a good friend who has done you a great service. It is ridiculous to assert that any and all types of thanks must be followed by one and only one response. I’d also contend that any standard and unthinking response tends to cut off or end further communication.

I also seriously question whether “Your welcome” is as good a response as, “Sure,” “My pleasure,” “No worries, Mate,” or the friendly and casual “You Betcha!” It seems to me that using the words, “your welcome” in this context means that you are welcoming the person into your circle of friends, that is, friends who treat each other with similar acts of consideration and kindness. Which also seems to say that by specifically pointing out that one person is “welcome” implies that there are others around who are NOT welcomed. I, personally want to stay away from anything that speaks to the idea of “us” vs. “them.”

Daniel