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Are we finding new ways to say old, polite phrases? Are good manners merely morphing? Or are they fading away altogether?
carlos rosales's profile photoJeferri Lang's profile photoMarie April's profile photoJonathan Miles's profile photo
morphing. i think the majority of people in society are still quite polite.
sara, you must live in the south, and/or perhaps somewhere rural
I split my time between southern California and Las Vegas.
I agree with Sara. And really-- what's the point of exchanging a pleasantry if it's simply perfunctory?
Odd voice out here...when I look at how many times people will take out their phone and play a game, write a text, or surf the web in the middle of a conversation or exchange...I think manners are on the decline!
+Sara Mays, well, in that case, all i can surmise is that you exude a level of personal charm that creates a bubble of exception around you.
I was raised to treat others as you'd like to be treated. I like hearing "please" and "thank you" and "you're welcome". It helps me feel that something I've done is appreciated or that someone I've helped appreciates my assistance. It helps show that you're not a complete jackass and makes people more likely to associate with you in a positive manner. It's not being polite for politeness sake. It has a real function and I feel that most people forget this and it's a skill not being passed on to the younger generation. When I was working in a retail store I had a little boy who was maybe 4 years old yell at me across the counter "hey WOMAN!" in front of his father who said nothing to the boy about his inappropriate speech. I don't care if you think that being Miss Manners is somehow unnecessary when dealing with a retail clerk but yelling "hey woman!" across the counter is never, ever appropriate. These days whenever I see a child use polite language or demonstrate good manners I try to make a point to compliment the parent on a job well done.
Polite people scare me. I wonder what they want.
I have always made a conscious effort to be polite. It is easy to forget your manners, however, being polite makes everyone feel good.
We've gone to lengths to teach our grand-daughter (the one that lives with us, anyway) to be polite in the traditional sense. I am constantly amazed at the number of comments her manners receive, so people certainly notice!
I grew up in big cities, but still use "please" and "thank you". I taught my kids - 10, 7 and 3 - to use them. I've heard other grown ups and also kids use them.
Matt C
I still say "thank you" or "thanks" to whoever I possibly can. I don't usually use please when placing orders, mainly because I have the feeling it sounds somehow rude, so I always phrase my 'orders' as questions, as if to request something. I have problems with people who knowingly or unknowingly give commands. Believe it or not, it sounds rude. "I had John print up some copies," or "Give me a latte" sounds as though you are forcing someone to do something for you as if they have no choice.

If you phrase requests as questions instead of orders you might get better service and have better interactions in general.
People need to remember that there are two sides to this issue. I work at a steak house and it is sometimes hard to be polite during the day when customers are treating you like a slave. Remember ; you the consumer only has to deal with one attitude problem at a time while us in the service industry have to deal with hundreds.
Agreed - manners are very important. We try to teach and instill that they are cool as well.

One of my pet peeves is when I say thank you and they come back with no problem - that really doesn't sound appropriate. My pleasure, or You're Welcome is greatly preferred. Maybe I am just old fashioned?
Sunny D
"Please", "Thank you", and "You're welcome" are staples in my everyday vernacular. Most people I know still say those three words. I haven't been around many children lately so I'm not sure if there is a difference. I don't have an issue with "no problem" especially in a casual setting. Usually when people say "no problem" to me, it's done in a very friendly manner.
"No problem" is what I'd say if I were speaking in German, but not when I am speaking in English.

I have heard "no worries" instead of "you're welcome" from mid western Americans. As long as the intent is there, I'll count it as being well mannered.
No decline on the manners front in our house; young miss already knows her P's and Q's at the age of 3 and also uses "you're welcome" in the correct context, I have no doubt she will continue to do so as she grows older and pass on the same to her children as and when they arrive.
four most important words that I teach my kids will help them in life - please, thank you, sir and ma'am
I'm with +Sara Mays in saying that they are morphing.

I don't see any difference between an automatic "you're welcome" and an automatic "no problem". They both acknowledge the thanks and tell the other person that you are happy to have helped.

It's not the specific words that are important, it's the meaning behind it.
What did people say before please, thank you, and you're welcome? I bet those words are pretty pissed off they got left behind too. ;)
But specific words do have meaning, and in turn express a certain feeling, thus using the appropriate words for a specific situation or context is important. As with many other aspects of daily life, people are taking proverbial shortcuts (and more often due to laziness) and this is no different in linguistics or manners. In my opinion, if one doesn't say what they mean, they will never mean what they say.
+Austin Deely , yes, words have meaning. But, the same thing can be expressed in different ways. A different way of saying something will have a different flavor, but that doesn't mean that it's any better or worse than another way.
It used to be Guys and Gals, now everybody says "you guys" to everyone. But warehouse and hotel personell keep saying "can we bring you anything else Sir"
i say thank you all the time , but if my parents would not have teached me to say that then i would not say it!
Something I actually like better than "you're welcome" is "any time". "You're welcome" says that you are happy to do it this time, but "any time" says that you are always willing to do it.

Also, in my experience, when "any time" is used it is often used more sincerely.
My grandpa notes the world's worn cogs
And says we're going to the dogs.
His grandpa in his house of logs
Said things were going to the dogs.
His grandpa in the Flemish bogs
Said things were going to the dogs.
His grandpa in his hairy togs
Said things were going to the dogs.
But this is what I wish to state:
The dogs have had an awful wait.
+Austin Deely The meaning of words, much like their pronunciation, is not a fixed value. This is particularly true of words that are often considered to be slang rather than "proper" words, but it's certainly not limited to them.

Take the word "kid", for example. It can refer to a young goat, a human child, goatskin leather, or even the act of joking. These various meanings didn't all spring fully formed from some mystical font of language in humanity's distant past. They arose through a multitude of linguistic interactions over the course of decades and centuries.

To paraphrase Lewis Carroll's caterpillar, a word only means whatever we mean it to mean when we say, or hear, it.
"no problem" is certainly fine. I don't know why anyone would find that offensive. I've used it for decades and only recently have I seen people take offense to it.
As a parent of a three and six year old I have tried to hammer in the please and thank you, granted I slack on the your welcome I say things like no problem but they have pick it up rather well and it rare we have to remind them. Sad thing is I see other kids their age that don't seem to have the same upbringing.
Most of the 11 12 13 14 and up do not say Please and thank you!
I am only 13 and i know that it's good to say it! I am hoping other people will follow my example! 
When studying with the late great Robert Anton Wilson we managed for over three years to avoid almost any form of flame war or rage-quit despite having fantastically complex arguments over incredibly contentious subjects.

We did ths by simply following his dictum-

If you can't agree at least agree to be polite
I think the bottom line is kids do what their parents do. If you use your manners, they usually will. Even if they're grumpy sometimes and don't always do it, at the end of the day, you'll have a polite kid.
I think some parents fail both at modeling the behavior but also actively teaching it. Kids pick up on things, but not EVERYTHING. You do have to actually tell them what, and why, and get them to do it, too.
Not to sure that's correct, thank you very much. if you please, it seems to be a cultural thing, thank you. Your welcome to test out my theory, thank you very much, have a nice day.
Robert Heinlein posited that the sure sign of a dying culture is personal rudeness. I think, in many ways, I agree with that assessment.

People used to be quick to be polite and "neighborly" to one another. Now, they're equally quick to spot some reason to take offense, some slight or slur they can snipe at, even if it wasn't really meant. People used to have table manners, and parents taught their children to behave well in public. Now, if I go to a restaurant, I dread being seated near a table with children, as chances are the parents will allow the little creatures to behave like complete beasts. There was a day when any adult could upbraid an unsupervised brat that was behaving badly, and the parent would take the adult's side when they finally appeared. Now, if you so much as speak to a child for misbehaving, the parent will threaten to have you arrested and/or sue you, for DARING to try to "discipline" their little monster.

I used to work in a Borders bookstore, and parents were constantly "dropping off" their children in the kids' section, then trotting off to do everything from getting a cup of coffee in the cafe to leaving the store to have lunch at the Cheesecake Factory downstairs. We had one woman who would leave her four kids in the store, then go get her hair done. The kids would invariably leave a mess, throw stuff all over, run all around the store, and drive us insane -- but if we DARED to try to control the little angels, these parents, who for all intents and purposes abandoned their children in our store, would suddenly turn into ferocious, obscenity-screaming terrors.

And don't get me started on book signings. When we had Sean Hannity come in for a book signing, it was strange, but relatively calm...but the Harry Potter midnight release was a near-violent screaming match we had to issue tickets for!
It doesn't take much to be pleasant and polite. it may seem banal to some but it can really brighten a person's day. As we have no idea what is going on with them personally, a smile and a few words may mean a whole lot.

About 'morphing' and modernised phrases etc, I have a pet hate about the response "I'm good" rather than "I'm well" to "How are you?". Also, we have the ubiquitous "Alright?" in the UK to cover "Hello!", "How are you?", "What's going on?" etc, which grates me at times. But that's a personal thing, I rather someone interact with me than use the correct grammar!

Oh and if I receive any impoliteness from retail staff, i.e. non-responsive, conducting a completing silent and dismissive transaction with me with no thank-you, chewing while speaking/serving ... I can't help myself but complain to their manager/employer forthwith. Unacceptable behaviour. I'm sorry but if you are in a service sector, you must treat your customers properly - no matter what. Unacceptable behaviour.
People in general are becoming increasingly dumbed down herd animals. Herd animals that can text message and consume almost supernatural amounts of Mountain Dew and Doritos, but incurious, rabidly anti-intellecutual herd animals all the same. Bodes well for the future, eh?
wow! this is sooo true! Thank you for sharing :)
According to Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts (1979), an Assyrian clay tablet dating to approximately 2800 BC was unearthed bearing the words "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common."
balance this with being honest, what's the point of a free nation where you censor people everywhere? and why some are just rude, because they can, there is no immediate consequences for stupid decisions now.
Liberals destroy our language, conservatives destroy our economy ... fair trade I think
Eh, politicians destroy everything they touch +Doc Holiday. I wouldn't limit them to one or the other.
Words are magical, and yet we are becoming decidedly unmagical...if you say the proper words, in the proper manner, with proper intonation, gestures and facial expressions, you can convince someone to do something they were not expecting to do, for your benefit...and thank you for the opportunity to do so. Try that with a tweet.
Took Middle English in College (lit major) and the professor once said, "Our language is degenerating into a series of points and grunts."

Can't say I have found any reason to disagree.
Good manners are subjective. It really depends on how the person who is listening interprets slang terms or so-called "casual" terms used to replace the traditional terms. They could have been raised with this language or they're just more comfortable with it.

"The only thing constant in this world is change."
Language is NOT something set in stone, it is alive and growing every second. For example 20 years ago if I said I was going to Google somebody, they would think I was talking about something sexual. Gay used to mean happy. Santorum used to be just some idiots last name, now it means something completely different. Dude used to be applied strictly to guys, now girls call each other dude too. I could literally go on for hours.
Great read, thanks for sharing. It doesn't stop at saying 'thank you' and 'you're welcome', somehow we've lost that capacity to empathize and show respect such as giving up our seat to the elderly , pregnant or handicapped...While this is not a generalization, the numbers seem to be growing.
you bet you're welcome
I meant YOUR baby sister
Well there is that stereotypical "southern hospitality" you can always depend on!:)
Social media sites?!? What about the movies? The decline in familial values in this country, slowly destroying the one place left that any of this is taught these things?
please thankyou excuse me and all the rest shows respect for our fellow humans and it is good 2 do so thank you for your time
This is worse in the "written words". People reply to my mail like "Than Q", "4 consideration" etc. These are difficult to someone like me who is tied to traditional spellings
Jack lo
<Thank you> for putting this up and <please>...... um....... nevermind. Actually, me and my friends at school are quite polite.
I am finding a very disturbing trend. Being polite, I often hold the door open for people to go through, only to find people entering without thanking's as if they feel entitled to having the door being held open just for them!

Does anyone know where I can pick up a pair of those awesome rose colored glasses so many people in this thread are sporting?
+Amos Bairn , well said and right on... The words that are spoken don't matter in the slightest. The meaning behind the words do. When I speak to people I don't know I say "please" and "thank you." When I speak to family and loved ones I say things like "no problem," or "yup." When I feel emotionally connected to someone I don't know and I've done them a service and they thank me, I almost invariably say "for sure."
Regardless of what I say, the tone and delivery are what are heard. The only people I've encountered in my life that have any problem with me not using the words "please" and "thank you" in my life have been ignorant jerks. That seems to come out of nowhere in this discussion, I realize, but it's true. The only people in my life that have really cared about those words being said to them were ignorant and rude people that I didn't care to associate with. I'm not making the leap in logic to say "all people who care about those words are ignorant jerks;" I'm merely making the observation. My point would be that I think most people just don't care about the actual choice of words, just in the intention, tone and delivery of them.
I too have worked in the service industry, and one thing I learned about politeness is: It's mostly a waste of time. I preferred to do my job efficiently and save my "nice" for people that seemed like they needed it.
manners evolve, always have always will...they are culturally specific as well. I will not mourn the passing of words people feel inclined so speak out of propriety. Being thankful and demonstrate gratitude by one's actions is far better....
I think they can be both; the kinder your words the kinder you feel to others which follows to actions-the pinnacle in need being feeding & clothing our young.
Being civil matters, it confuses the young, and gives smiles to the not young.
It creates the human in "human being"; It can tell if one has "education" or can be "acceptable".
Not having civility is pandemic in the US to the point of most non US citizenry can tell if they are encountering one who is…NOT in a good way.
Test: try to be civil one day, and see what confusion and odd responses received.
Does "ugly american" come to mind?
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