I’ve recently become more aware that when someone thanks me, I reflexively respond, “No problem.” I don’t quite know when or why I abandoned, “You’re welcome,” but I’ve recently come to understand the genesis of responses to “Thank you.”
According to Margaret Visser, author of The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude, unlike many other languages, English did not posses a standard response to an expression of thanks. The use of “You’re welcome” was first introduced by immigrants to the United States whose native languages dictate an expected response. Speaking on NPR’s On Point Radio (at the 27:35 mark in the recording), Ms. Visser noted that in Italian, the expression of thanks, “Grazie,” is followed by the response, “Prego.”
While “You’re welcome” has become common in English, so have “No problem” and “Don’t mention it,” the latter of which can be off-putting for some who may interpret the speaker as saying the expression of thanks was unnecessary. In reality, I think that English speakers continue to struggle to find an appropriate response to “Thank you,” an expression originally intended to signal the end of a conversation.
If you’re a fan of Fox’s Lie to Me or generally have an interest in detecting deception, NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston did an interesting piece for Morning Edition entitled “Spotting Lies: Listen, Don’t Look.”
For more information on the science behind detecting deception through facial expressions, see Dr. Paul Ekman’s site. Dr. Ekman is the forefather of the study of microexpressions. His site includes microexpression training exercises and a column breaking down the real and embellished aspects of Lie to Me.
Citing North Korean state media, numerous major media outlets are reporting that Euna Lee and Laura Ling have been released from a North Korean prison following an unannounced visit to the country by former President Bill Clinton. During his visit, Mr. Clinton met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, but all reports have indicated that the meeting was focused on securing the release of the two journalists detained since March 17 of this year. According to the BBC, the North Korea News Agency released a statement saying Kim Jong Il “granted a special pardon” to the journalists.
It is unclear whether or not North Korea’s nuclear ambitions were discussed, but all indications are that the meeting focused on the reporters. North Korea’s lead nuclear negotiator did, however, greet Mr. Clinton at the airport while Kim Jong Il was absent.
The reporters were working along the North Korea-China border on a documentary about North Korean refugees for Current.tv, a project of Al Gore’s, when they were arrested for crossing illegally into North Korean territory.
According to recently-released government data, the US is currently using an average of 9.347 million barrels of oil per day.
CORRECTION: According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency, the above figure of 9.347 million barrels per day represents gasoline consumption only. During the same period, overall crude oil consumption was 20.253 million barrels per day.