You’re welcome

Different answers to thank you were the subject matter of a guest lecture at the university. I was surprised about the sheer range of options: (you’re) welcome, (it’s a) pleasure, (it’s) alright, don’t mention it, don’t worry, any time, sure, yeah, okay and – thank you. In a short survey, which he himself had carried out, the researcher found that welcome was more frequently used in New York City than in Vancouver and no problem and thank you were more frequently used in Vancouver than in New York City. He also found that there were non-verbal answers such as mmhm or just a smile or a gesture. In previous research, which was based on questionnaires and not on interviews, these options had not even been considered. Nobody writes mmhm into a blank space on a questionnaire. He also reported that when he asked an American friend what she would say in such a situation she said: “I’d say welcome … At least I think I would … At least I hope I would.”  A clear indication that speakers, when asked what they say, are likely to say what they think they say and what they think they ought to say.

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