I love language.
I love language that amazes me.
I love language that surprises me.
I hate language that is imprecise.
I hate language that confuses a once clear idea or combines it into something meaningless.
I know the transformation of language is inevitable, like teenagers’ rooms decaying into chaos. (The French tried to combat it with an entire Government office.)
The latest place English has taken a dive is in the simplest of transactions. An example:
A young cashier informs me, “That will be $5.”
I respond as I hand him a fiver, “Here you go.”
The cashier hands me the bag.
I take it from him and say, “Thank you.”
He graciously answers, “No problem.”
If you have young people in your circle of influence, please remind them:
PROBLEM: a difficulty, a challenge, something extra, something one might prefer not to do.
NO PROBLEM: glad to help, it wasn’t really anything.
YOU’RE WELCOME: the reply to thank you.
The slang replacement of ‘you’re welcome’ with ‘no problem’ has a rich history that includes situations such as these replies to ‘thank you!’:
- • a gangster who just spared a mark his life;
- • a bargain hunter who just got a super deal that was unadvertised; or
- • a kid who stopped to help a woman whose groceries spilled on the sidewalk.
Let’s keep ‘no problem’ for those special occasions, and just say ‘you’re welcome’ the rest of the time!