Extraneous polite cultural filler phrases.

Sometime I wish we could just go with blunt meanings and forget all the polite formal crap that gets thrown in. It annoys my sense of efficiency. Of course There are some that just feel natural to me, but working in IT with a lot of folks who have different languages and cultures, I start feeling like that old Carlin Joke. paraphrased: “Anybody who drives slower than me is a pussy who shouldn’t have a license, and anybody who drives faster is an dangerous ass who should be taken off the road”

But Being American my level of “correct” formality is very low obviously in general, and sometimes it drives me crazy. Where I work In particular there is a Taiwanese guy, and an Indian dude who are both very confrontational, but so programmed for formality that it is both Hilarious and grating in a passive-aggressive way to hear these guys arguing as loudly and animatedly as you can without actual yelling, but starting every sentence with

“So what I am hearing you say is…!”
“I do understand what you are saying but…!”
“If I am understanding you correctly then…!”
“I may not be remembering correctly but…!”

I need to figure out how to get them to argue the correct loud obnoxious American way.

“NO! NO! NO!”
“That’s Wrong!”
Just Shut-up and listen!"
“That makes no damn sense!”

I disagree. I think more people should attempt being polite. Manners are free. Life is harsh enough already, don’t you think?

Where I work, people discuss problems as adults.

I think it’s humourous, and can only hope they think it’s humourous watching a ‘normal’ American disagreement.

But they probably just think we’re uncouth.

“Please do the needful and take a flying leap!”

These phrases are not efficient, absolutely, but I’m unconvinced that maximizing efficiency is a reasonable goal for conversation. We want people to understand our ideas, and we also want to gussy them up so that our ideas are aesthetically pleasing to other people. Manners are a great form of gussying.

If I tell someone, “Get over here!” they know what I want. I’ve expressed it in such an ugly manner that they’re likely to look for an excuse not to come over here.

If I tell someone, “Could you come over here for a moment, please?” I’ve used more words, but for most folks, the gussying (putting it indirectly by asking them about their capabilities, attaching a “please” onto it) makes it so much more aesthetically pleasing that they’ll come over, unless there’s a good reason not to (I’m a stranger wearing clown makeup and holding a bloody cleaver, to take an example from earlier today).

It can go too far, though. My first year of teaching, I tended to phrase things in the polite conditional: “Jake, would you mind coming over here for a minute, please?” Some of the kids I was dealing with seemed unfamiliar with this form, and they would shake their heads, as though I were asking them a genuine question, not making a request, and, having answered the question, they’d continue doing whatever they were doing before.

I’ve had to learn to be a little more direct: “Come here, please.” It’s a balancing act.

Earlier this week I was in a library I’d never been to before, and as I left, I saw a sign: “Please submit all bags to the security guard.” I walked up to the guard and said, “Do you need to see this?” It was my polite way of saying, “Here you go, dude.”

But he didn’t get the intent, so he gave me this contemptuous sneer and said, “Uh, YEAH, I need to see that.”

He was being a tool, but it was interesting to me how badly I’d communicated with him. It may be my southern culture showing through: where I’m from, such oblique phrasings are nearly universal and well-understood.

I couldn’t find the exact quote, but Benjamin Franklin used to advocate the use of softening phrases such as “could”, “maybe”, “perhaps”, “it seems to me” rather than present an aggressive confrontational statement. This is the closest I could get. Apologies, inspirational speaker.

In one of Len Deighton’s books he has an American boss in the British Secret Service say “You want to sit down there?” as an inoffensive way of giving an order.

“‘Shut up,’ he explained.” - A.J. Liebling

Sorry, It has become apparent that my phraseology was not sufficient for the expected audience…

I never meant to imply that southerners are American :wink:

[nitpick] I believe it wasRing Lardner, *The Young Immigrants, *1920 [/nitpick]

I stand corrected. Thanks.

Generally, I don’t have a problem with polite language, but I hate it when people ask “do you WANT to …” when they request that I take out the garbage or some other chore that I would never want to do. My answer is that I don’t want to, but I will.

Oh yeah, another American, witnessing a difference of culture and their first thought is, “This is too civilized, how can I get them to be more like me?”

Maybe crack your mind open, and learn to be a little more like them? (Of course you can’t do that, I was only joking!) How about mind your own damn business!

Say what you mean or shut the hell up. Words aren’t free. On Wheel you have to pay just to get a vowel.

I work at a dry cleaning place, and every Friday this one 25ish y/o Arab guy comes in to pick up his clothes and says the exact same thing:

“My fucking clothes please.”

And when you have a conversation with him, the only thing odd about his English at all is that he will swear unnecessarily every chance he gets and only knows maybe 3-4 cuss words. He’s never angry, just swearing for the sake of swearing or something.

Hey, at least he says Please! That’s a great story!

It’s epic, elbows. :smiley:

I work in a 9-1-1 center. Some people do become quite angry or emotional during an emergency and it shows in their tone of voice and how they relate to the 9-1-1 operator… but…

There are a few people who are so programmed for formality or politeness that they must exchange pleasantries before moving on the the issue they are calling about.

Phone rings.
9-1-1 Operator: 9-1-1. Where is your emergency?
Really too polite caller: Hi. How are you today?
9-1-1 Operator: I am fine. Do you have an emergency?
**Really too polite caller: ** Good. Good. So glad you are well.
**9-1-1 Operator: ** Yes. Do you need police, fire, or ambulance?
Really too polite caller: And a blessed day it is.
9-1-1 Operator: Yes. And where do you need assistance?
Really too polite caller: Oh… well, my grandmother is not eating. Not moving at all either.
**9-1-1 Operator: ** Is she breathing? :smack:

I disagree. At least, to an extent. I often wish people would dispense with the formalities. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me’ are great, but don’t beat around the bush. Sometimes I find myself wanting to just yell at someone to spit it out, or get to the fucking point, etc. But I don’t, because I’m too polite. :wink: So, the point may be to make it more pleasant for the other person (or “gussy it up”), but it may have the opposite effect.

One thing that really annoys is when people ask me, “Can I ask you a question?” Uh, you just did.

I see that you’re a teacher. “Could you come over here for a moment, please?” sounds like something my teachers would say, when they were about to chew my ass out or give me a detention or something.

Of course, I generally wouldn’t say “Get over here!” either.

My sister actually apologized to her nurse-midwife for not maintaining good eye contact while giving birth. It’s gone down in family legend.