Date: Sun, 19 Oct 1997 22:08:18 -0400 From: Gregory {Greg} Downing Subject: Re: thank you . . . thank you Before this gets thread gets too old, my ante: I've very much noticed this "mutual thank-you" formula among 20-somethings and 30-somethings on the east coast of the US around NYC. I've noticed myself doing it a lot. I have a feeling that the cultural and resultant sociolinguistic change is maybe driven by US culture's increasing concern with egalitarianism or an appearance of it. "Thank you" means "You did me a favor" and "You're welcome" means "I did, but I was glad to." That feels suspiciously unequal to people (granter of a favor, and receiver of a favor). So they instead construe the situation where thanks are being offered as one where both sides are giving and/or both getting. In a store, the purchaser and seller will both say "thank you" since both have gotten something from the other party. In the old way of doing thank-you's and you're-welcome's, custom or convention detemined which side was getting the favor and therefore was supposed to say "thank you." As those kinds of behavioral conventions weakened over the last 30 years, people either had to hope they and the people they were interacting with would have the same self-determined sense of who was to say thanks and who was to say you're welcome (which maybe half the time would not coincide naturally), or else (and this is what they in fact did) work out a formula where both sides said the same thing, so it doesn't matter which person sees which as doing or getting the favor. Both are saying "you did me a favor." The seller for example was done a favor in being chosen by the customer, and customer was done a favor by the seller who stocked what the customer needed. Thanks. Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]