How often do you say thank you

Please thank you please

A reader from Switzerland would like to know what the word “please” is all about when you say “thank you”. What are you asking for? And why actually? You were asked for something yourself. Is it just an echo of the requester's “please” or is there more to it?

"Can you please pass the mustard over to me!"
"Of course!"
"You're welcome!"

It goes without saying that you wrap a request with the word “please”. And it goes without saying that the word “thank you” is there to express gratitude. But why does the person who was first prayed and then thanked for his part reply with “please”, alternatively stretched to “please very much” or “please beautiful”?

The “please” is the abbreviation of “I ask you” or “I ask you”, followed by an (imaginary) phrase such as “don't make a fuss about it” or “don't attach any importance to my favor”.

That is why some people say a little longer: "I ask you, that was a matter of course!" Or "I ask you, that is not worth mentioning!" The politely thanked person responds by asking not to thank them.

Something so perfectly polite and chivalrous was probably not invented in Germany. There is some evidence that we have adopted this formula from the masters of elegant form, the French. In French, too, thanks can be returned with a request: "Merci!" - "Je vous en prie!" And here, too, the meaning is: "Please do not thank me."

The fact that fewer and fewer people are aware of this may be the reason why “please” is increasingly falling out of fashion. In the service sector, another word has long since overtaken it, namely the little word "like".

Apparently more people can do something with “like” or “like” than with “please”. Who can still imagine today that one would once have become so modest and ask not to be thanked? Today every service employee is self-confident enough to accept thanks for their services. In the style of American over-cheating, it is jovially pointed out that one "liked" to do it. The old formula “please -> thank you -> please” has now become “please -> thank you -> gladly”.

Curiously enough, "gladly" sometimes appears in places where it is rather inappropriate. You can find some examples in the story “Always happy again”.

Thank you very much for your interest, and if you are too modest to accept this thank you please say please.

More on language and courtesy:

Onion fish: the imperfect tense of politeness
Onion fish: Excuse me, or I'll do it myself
Onion fish: Always happy