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Ta very much!
by Asa Butcher
2007-01-12 09:44:21
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"Thank you very much for the Sunday joint
Thank you very much, thank you very, very, very much
Thank you very much for the Sunday joint and our cultural heritage, national beverage, being fat, Union jack, nursery rhyme, Sunday Times, napalm bomb, everyone!
Thank you very much, thank you very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very much."

- "Thank U Very Much" by The Scaffold (M. McGear; R. McGough)

It is unlikely that January 11th's unofficial International Thank You Day would have an official anthem, but if it did then The Scaffold's 1967 number four UK hit "Thank U Very Much" would seem an appropriate choice. The song, written by Mike McGear (alias Michael McCartney, brother of Paul McCartney) and Roger McGough, a well-known English performance poet, contains over two minutes of gratitude.

Forty years later, the world could benefit a great deal from two minutes of gratitude, good manners and polite behaviour, since the word 'thank you' has become an endangered species heading in the same direction as 'orgiophant' and 'dodrantal', although neither of those are particularly missed or even understood by the masses.

A quick Google of "International Thank You Day" reveals nothing about the history or reasons behind its existence, so I am led to deduce that it is merely a Hallmark Card holiday. However, this does not mean that the concept is without merit or should pass by without observation, since a kindly reminder about manners is always welcome, especially to some people I know.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe is quoted as saying, "A man's manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait." I subscribe to this philosophy and believe that they are an essential part of character, and not just because I am English. The stereotype of a polite English society is outdated, since there is now a noticeable lack of general respect throughout the country for people and property.

No matter how much my Finnish wife may mock the extent to which I go on thank yous, such as writing thank you letters and emails after birthdays. I consider it the least you can do, even if you have thanked the individual to their face and phoned them; okay, my wife does have a point about going too far, but it is expected. Pleases and thank yous should be an integral part of a child's upbringing, almost as important as potty training and learning the alphabet - both involve minding your Ps and Qs!

When I first met my future in-laws, the determination to make the perfect first impression was so overwhelming that I became a sickly Mr. Polite. Unfortunately, I had misheard that 'please' and 'thank you' in Finnish were both the same word 'kiitos', which eventually led to a new world record for the number of times the word was used by one person over a weekend. Kiitos, kiitos, kiitos… I can't help it; manners have been ingrained in me from childhood and this will never change, nor do I want it to.

I admit that there are occasions when 'thank you' is overused and begins to lose its significance, such as at the checkout in a supermarket. You say thank you when the cashier takes your card and she says thank you for the card. You say thank you for the receipt and then the pen, so she says thank you when you return the receipt and the pen. You say thank you when she returns the card and the receipt, plus she may throw in a final thank you as you take the card and receipt. It can become too much, but I wouldn't really want to change any of that.

The word is important and should be used far more in society, except at supermarket checkouts. 'Thank you' has originated from the Old English word thancian, related to Old Frisian thankia, Old Norse thakka and Old High German thancōn, which goes to show that it has been important for centuries, so why change that now? Courtesy and good manners are something of which to be proud, something that we should instil within our children and something for which we should be grateful.

Thank you for reading.

* orgiophant n.
one who presides over orgies

* dodrantal adj.
…of nine inches in length

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Eva2007-01-11 13:58:14
I think it's also cultural difference: when I first worked in the UK I was shocked to hear that my boss perceived me as rude - it turned out it was because I didn't say thank you and please in every sentence..
These are not overused words in Finland. But that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with being polite or not. Politeness is first of all shown through manners.
After a few years in the UK I adopted the "thank yous" and "pleases" and funnily enough when I returned to Finland I was being told I was overpolite! I got funny stares from people and my sister asked me what was wrong with me haha...

Asa2007-01-11 15:13:39
You just can't please everybody.

BTW Thank you for your comment ;)

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