Saturday, October 29, 2005

No Problem, You're Welcome

It is not entirely without reason that this site is to be found in the "grumpy links" section of "". However, some curmudgeons take their petty gripes with the world too far. Lynne Truss is a classic example of this. According to this Times review, she's written a new book about manners:
She detests waiters who say “There you go” when putting food in front of her, and longs to administer a clip round the ear to anyone who responds to her “Thank you” with “No problem.”.
The latter is one complaint that incenses me as much as the supposed offense obviously irritates Truss. Why? Because in saying "no problem", or "you're welcome", one is actually making an effort to be polite - demonstrating that whatever efforts you have made that were worth thanking really wasn't a problem. The hypocrisy of Truss complaining about this whilst bemoaning a lack of manners, however, is accentuated when you read this passage:
The press of people on our packed island is another factor she skirts round without actually naming. The French, she says, are better mannered, but they also have a much lower population density.
How would a polite Frenchman respond when someone says "merci"? By saying "de rien", or "it's nothing". Similarly in German, the response to "danke" is "bitte" - it's even shouted out by thousands of football fans when they assist the announcer in declaring the score. English culture is somewhat strange in not having an automatic response to the phrase "thank you". And the attempts of many to address this imbalance is welcome. No matter what miserable sanctimonious curmudgeons like Lynne Truss might say.