Thank you for having me (UNCLASSIFIED)

Mullins, Bill AMRDEC Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Thu Dec 16 15:54:08 UTC 2010

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

I think "you're welcome"'s literal meaning is more akin to "I am pleased
to have provided you a service," not "I am pleased you are in my
immediate vicinity".

"You're welcome" is, as you say, a convention.  To my mind, "no problem"
is not conventional (although it seems to be becoming one).  "You're
welcome" is the _standard_ convention, however.

Most of "good manners" is "without direct meaning".  But it is a
formalized ritual that makes little things in life go more smoothly, and
when the ritual is made less formal or otherwise changed, the point of
it is lost.

When I tell my waitress "thank you" and she says "you're welcome", it is
nearly devoid of meaning -- thirty seconds later, we likely both have
forgotten the exchange.

But if she says "no problem", my (internal, curmudgeonly) reaction is
"So what if it is a problem?  I paid for the meal, and if the effort for
you to provide it is insignificant, lower the price, dammit!"  The "No
problem" statement implies, it seems to me, that the service just
rendered cost the person who gave it nothing, and that I therefore
shouldn't concern myself for having asked for it.  Usually, however, my
previously-made decision to pay for the service, and their acceptance of
the contract to provide it, renders moot any concern I may have about
how hard it is for them to have done so.  I wouldn't say to them about
the money I've just given them, "don't worry about charging me, I have
enough money that the pittance I've just given you is nothing to me."

Another reason I don't like it is how it puts the focus of the
interaction on the person who said "no problem".  The normal exchange
(thank you/you're welcome) allows each party to acknowledge the other's
part of what has just happened.  Each statement is a gesture in which
the speaker refers to the listener.  But thank you/no problem is an
interaction in which the first person acknowledges the 2nd's
contribution, and the 2nd person minimizes their own contribution -- the
back/forth symmetry is lost.

But this is just my pet peeve, and as a peeve, it is probably not
subject to an analytical reduction of the literal phrase.  Most of good
manners is done the way it done because that is the way it should be
done.  The arguments against proscriptivism in language may well apply
here as well.  But if it's good enough for Miss Manners, it's good
enough for me.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
Behalf Of
> Dan Goncharoff
> Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2010 9:28 AM
> Subject: Re: Thank you for having me (UNCLASSIFIED)
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Thank you for having me (UNCLASSIFIED)
> -
> Aren't you bothered by the lack of relevance of "you're welcome" to
> the notion of being thanked? If someone is thanking me for something I
> did, my first thought shouldn't be to tell that person, possibly
> falsely, that they I am happy for them to be in my immediate
> environment, should it?
> Like "no problem", it's just a convention, and one without direct
> DanG
> On Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 9:58 AM, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC
> <Bill.Mullins at> wrote:
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> ---
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       "Mullins, Bill AMRDEC" <Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL>
> > Subject:      Re: Thank you for having me (UNCLASSIFIED)
> >
> ---
> >
> > Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
> > Caveats: NONE
> >
> > I was always taught that "you're welcome" is the gracious way to say
> > "you're welcome".  But this is less bothersome to me than being told
> > problem" when telling someone "thank you."
> >
> >
> >>
> >> There is nothing "smarmy" about this phrase. It is a gracious way
> >> say "you're welcome."
> >>
> >>
> >> >I'd like to nominate "Thank you for having me"
> >> >for smarmy expression of the year.
> >> >
> >> >
> > Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
> > Caveats: NONE
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society -
> >
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

The American Dialect Society -

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