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Picture of Kalleh
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What are your thoughts about people using "no problem" instead of "thank you." Someone complained about it in one our "Dear Abby" type columns. I generally don't like it either, but someone's response made me think differently. He said to him it means, "You owe me nothing;" or "I gave willingly of my time, effort or material belongs." Then he goes on to liken it to other languages, which I found the most interesting. In French there is "de rein," with means "for nothing." Or "il n'y a pas de quoi," meaning "nothing to me." He says these are not slang pass-offs, but gracious expressions. Then of course he points to "de nada" in Spanish, meaning "it's nothing."

I believe we've talked about this before, but I may be changing my mind. Do you use it?
 
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It's simply a set response. The meaning scarcely even matters. It's no different to always answering "Fine, thanks." when someone asks how you are.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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Do you think the same for "You're welcome."? I don't see them quite the same as "Fine, thanks."
 
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I've noticed that nobody says, "You're welcome" any more. On the radio and TV one always hears the thanked person thanking the thanker right back. Strange, but that's how it is.

As for answering, "How are you," I usually tell the truth. It shocks people to not hear a formulaic response.
 
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As for answering, "How are you," I usually tell the truth. It shocks people to not hear a formulaic response.

With all due respect to Geoff, that is a common response by older people. As Geoff mentions, people are shocked by getting a list of the other person's ailments - it's probably out of a sense of mischief - people our age aren't able to indulge in as much mischief as we used to, so we take the opportunity when we can. Big Grin


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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On the radio and TV one always hears the thanked person thanking the thanker right back. Strange, but that's how it is.
I never say, "no problem," and try to say "You're welcome." However, I find my self thanking the thanker, too, for some reason. It seems to be a rote response, and I always think to myself, "Why did I do that?" I am going to try to say, "You're welcome" from now on!
 
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What are your thoughts about people using "no problem" instead of "thank you"?

There's a term in linguistics for this kind of language: phatic. The response to "thank you" is almost without literal meaning. I wonder how old "you're welcome" is? Think about what it meant originally. I always assumed it was a calque on French bienvenue. Something celebrating your safe passage whence you came.

French has du rien and Spanish has de nada, both literally 'of nothing'. German uses bitte 'please' in response to danke 'thanks'.

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Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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German uses "please" as a response to "thank you"? Do they use "thank you" to mean "I am grateful," too?

I did not remember "phatic," but I searched it on WC and found we've used it 15 times here, from 2003 to 2011.
 
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Do they use "thank you" to mean "I am grateful," too?

Could you give me an example of this use in English? Italian and Spanish both use words from Latin gratia 'favor, esteem, friendship' (< gratus 'pleasing'), whence English grace.

Actually, bitte literally has something to do with praying. It is cognate with English bid. (I think it's similar to older English prithee ((I) + pray + thee), cf. French je vous en prie.)


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Could you give me an example of this use in English?

Perhaps I am misunderstanding you? However, if I were to say, "Thank you for taking care of my dog," I'd be expressing gratitude. I just wondered if the same use in German also means "You're welcome" and "thank you."

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Reviving a thread

Now I am hearing "no worries" as a response to thank you. I am wondering why people just can't say "You're welcome."
 
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To my ears "you're welcome", "don't mention it" and even "my pleasure" sound a little dated. That's because we are a little dated. "No worries" has been common for quite a long time (several decades at least). I usually say "that's fine" or "that's OK" or if I am being thanked for doing something I might say "no problem".
These formulaic responses are no more than a matter of fashion. When you think about it "you're welcome" makes no more sense than "no worries" unless someone has arrived on your doorstep and you are asking them in.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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I suppose we could go with "please do not concern yourself. There is little cause to thank me for such a trifling matter"
Cool


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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That was interesting. BobH says 'no worries' has been around for decades. I 've probably been hearing it for that long-- but always from folks who learned Eng Brit-style (which in my locale, means folks who emigrated here from India).

'No problem' seems very American, & typical of millennials & younger.

I agree with BobH that none of these makes any more 'sense' than another.
 
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I don't think I've ever heard, "that's OK" or "that's fine." Really, those don't make sense to me. You are thanking someone for something, not apologizing. I certainly don't think "you're welcome" is dated. I've heard all age groups, including gen Z, say that. But I agree, Bethree, that "no problem," was probably made popular by the millennials (who are getting older and older these days. Wink)
 
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I had wrongly assumed that it meant that one was
deserving of whatever it was. Etymology On Line suggests that a "welcome guest" is one whose appearance gives joy to someone, so by extension giving someone something gives joy to the giver.
That's stretching the EOL definition a bit, but that's my take.

BTW, I had all but given up on WC! Glad to see people here again!
 
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Originally posted by Geoff:
On the radio and TV one always hears the thanked person thanking the thanker right back.

The host of the radio or TV program is thanking the person for being on the show. The guest is thanking the host for having them (the singular "them") on the show. So when you give me that $10,000 and I say "thank you" for giving me the gift, you can say "thank you" for my having accepted it. Hundreds would be fine. No checks. And thank you in advance.

quote:
As for answering, "How are you," I usually tell the truth.


"How are you" is just a greeting like "Hi," not an invitation to bellyache about every little pain you have. We used to have a guy at work who would answer "How are you" by telling you how his neuropathy was bothering him, and then would proceed to tell you about his aches and pains, his personal problems, ad nauseum. You never said "How are you" to him again.
 
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Geoff, I had forgotten about "welcome guest" too. It does make sense, doesn't it? Anyway, I like it, rather than "no problem."

Tinman, I've known a few people too who really answer how they are. You'd think they could just say something like "Eh!" Wink
 
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