中 日 翻譯

Saying thank you is good manners. That’s not up for debate. But we do need to talk about the way to respond when being thanked. You need to say something, right? Many people, particularly in the US, reply to “thank you” with “you’re welcome.”

毫無疑問,道謝是種好習慣。可問題來瞭,別人向你道謝時,你該說什麼?你總得說點什麼,不是嗎?許多人,尤其是美國人,聽到對方說“thank you”(“謝謝”)後,常會答一句“you’re welcome”(“不謝”)。

This has begun to change, as young people use and hear “you’re welcome” sarcastically. And it’s not just young people: To people from other parts of the world, “you’re welcome” can sound rude.

如今的回答方式已經改變,因為對年輕人來說,“you’re welcome”一語多少帶點諷刺意味。而且,不止年輕人這麼認為,在其他一些國傢,“you’re welcome”聽上去並不禮貌。

Brits, for example, can’t help but hear a hint of condescension in there. But the problem with “you’re welcome” isn’t sarcasm. Well, not the whole problem. It’s about meaning.

比如,英國人就覺得,“you’re welcome”聽來有些傲慢。不過,嘲諷之意倒不是個問題,至少不是個大問題。真正值得探究的,是這個短語的意思。

Not that this is the intention, but “you’re welcome” can sound like you’re taking the polite gesture from the thanker, and bringing attention to your kindness. To the unaccustomed ear, it can sound like “yes, I did you a favour, you should be thankful.” It’s not intentional, I’m sure. But that doesn’t make it any less ambiguous.

“You’re welcome”聽上去就像你試圖不顧道謝者的禮節,強行凸顯你的善意一樣,雖然你可能不曾意識到這點。但在有些人聽來,你就像在說“瞧,我不幫你瞭嘛,你理應要謝謝我”。所謂言者無心,怕就怕聽者有意。

Similarly “no problem”, or the reply favoured by our Australian friends, “no worries”, are both flawed. Often said with a dismissive shrug, “no problem” can be interpreted as simply denying that being kind is an inconvenience. But to those used to hearing “you’re welcome,” “no problem” can be sound like being kind is sometimes an inconvenience…and that you might not have helped if it had been.

另外,“no problem”(“沒問題”)以及澳洲人愛用的“no worries”(“別擔心”)同樣值得斟酌。嘴上說著“no problem”,加上無謂地聳聳肩,大概是說幫忙不是什麼麻煩事。不過,對那些聽慣瞭“you’re welcome”的人而言,“no problem”似乎暗示瞭幫忙有時候真是件麻煩事。若情況真的無比棘手,你絕不會挺身而出的。

Young people tend to respond to being thanked with “no problem”, which older people find rude. So it’s a generational problem, yes. But also a linguistic one. Why is this? Here’s where it gets technical…

當你道謝時,年輕人通常會回一句“no problem”。這在老年人看來,實在太不禮貌瞭。所以,這算個代溝問題,沒錯。不過這也是個語言學問題。至於原因嘛,就得涉及專業知識瞭……

Both “you’re welcome” and “no problem” are phatic expressions, an expression whose sole function is to perform a social role. We use phatic expressions all the time. For example when we respond to “how are you?” by saying “good, you?” Or by responding to “what’s up?” with “what’s up?”.

“You’re welcome”和“no problem”都是客套用語,僅僅用作應酬。我們時時都會說這樣的客套話,比如有人向你問好“how are you?”(“你好嗎?”),你就會說“good, you?”(“我很好,你呢?”)。有人和你打招呼“what’s up?”(“嘿呦!”),你便回答“what’s up”(“嘿呦!”)

Often we use a phatic response when we don’t know what else to say. Saying “I’m OK,” for example, even when we’re not. Or to simply acknowledge someone, or something, when there is no need to convey actual information. We know people aren’t (usually) actively asking how we are, so we respond phatically. But because “thank you” is a sincere expression, many common phatic responses sound empty in comparison. The emptiness of the response is why some people tend to find “no problem” or “you’re welcome” dismissive.

我們常用客套話,是因為我們不知道說什麼。比如,即便我們真有事,嘴上還是會說“I’m OK.”(“我沒事”)。有時候,我們隻是提到某人某事而已,並不想多說什麼。大多數時候,問好就是個口頭套話而已,於是我們也就用套話回答瞭。然而,“thank you”往往帶著真情實意,相比之下,再用套話回答就顯得虛偽瞭。或許,正是這種虛偽,讓人們覺得“no problem”或“you’re welcome”聽上去充滿瞭輕蔑。

So, what are the options? Are we at a linguistic impasse?


Thankfully, no.


As the Brits have long known, the correct way to respond to “thank you” is to say “thank you”. Similarly, you can respond to “cheers” with “cheers”. This response is still phatic in purpose, but the tone and context can’t be misread.

英國人早就知道,別人說“thank you”(“謝謝”)時,正確的回答也是“thank you”(“謝謝”),類似於別人說“cheers”(“幹杯”),你也跟著說“cheers”(“幹杯”)就行。此番回答聽上去依舊客套,但沒瞭諷刺味道,也不會引起歧義。

Effectively, you’re thanking the thanker for their thanks. Everybody wins! And there’s no need to get stuck in a thank you loop; once each will do.

事實上,回答“thank you”,你是在感謝對方的感謝行為。這就是所謂的雙贏嘛!另外,雙方也沒有必要無休無止地感謝下去,說上一輪就夠瞭。

Thank you.





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