What is happening to the phrase "Thank you"?
- Is thank you considered formal nowadays? Is thanks used more often?
- Is there a decline in the usage of the phrase thank you observable among different generations, classes, regions or countries?
- Is there a difference in how people express gratitude today compared to the past (by using different phrases)?
Preamble: I'm not seeking a discussion or criticism. I included my research on the topic below but it doesn't prove anything.
I'd like to hear about your experiences. It would be nice if you could include additional information and any research as well. Of course, there are other ways to show gratitude but my question focuses on this phrase and its usage. It is not about people becoming more impolite or less grateful.
Note: Great subjective questions invite sharing experiences over opinions. Certainly experiences inform opinions, but the best subjective questions unabashedly and unashamedly prioritize sharing actual experiences over random opinions. http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective/
I did some research and found some articles on this topic (mainly related to British and American English). I tried to include relevant parts, not everything written might be related or some of them might be broader in scope. Please do not take it personally.
The excerpt below is from an article titled Why we don't say thank you any more - it's now cheers, fab or cool (which applies mainly to British English):
For many a traditionalist, it is the most important two-word phrase in our vocabulary.
But ‘thank you’ is falling by the wayside, replaced increasingly with less formal expressions of gratitude, a poll reveals.
Although the average person will say 'thank you' nearly 5,000 times a year, one in three are more likely to throw in a 'cheers' or 'ta' where it's needed, rather than risk sounding old fashioned.
One in 20 now say 'nice one' instead, while younger generations are more likely to offer a 'cool' than a thank you.
'Merci', 'fab' and even 'gracias' were also listed as common phrases to use, as was 'much appreciated'.
One in twenty who took part in the poll of 2,000 people by the Food Network UK for Thank You Day, which is marked on November 24 said a formal 'thank you' was now not often needed in everyday conversation.
A discussion on this topic from today.com:
What happened to ‘please,’ ‘thank you’? Has society let these three simple words of civility and gentility slip away? The Rev. Sherri Hausser and Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz discuss why softening commands and acknowledging gestures are so important in our daily interactions.
Listen to the conversations around you — colleagues at the office, customers in the coffeehouse line, those who serve you, those you serve, the people you meet each day. "Give me a tall latte." "Hand me that hammer." "Have a good one."
Notice anything missing? The traditional magic words "please" and "thank you" that many people learn as children appear to be disappearing.
Other polite phrases also seem to be falling by the wayside. "You're welcome," for instance. Say "thank you" to someone these days, and instead of hearing "you're welcome," you're more liable to hear: "Sure." "No problem." "You bet." "Enjoy." Or a long list of replies that replace the traditional "you're welcome."
There are many articles and studies on this topic also. The following includes a study on gratitude:
- "Language in Life, and a Life in Language: Jacob Mey, a Festschrift." edited by Bruce Fraser, Ken Turner
Bonus article from psychcentral.com: Why ‘Thank You’ Is More Than Just Good Manners
Inspired by and related to: What happened to "You're welcome?"