You're welcome.

The usual responce to ‘thank you’, but, what exactly does it mean?

“You’re welcome to it”, I would guess; as in, it’s okay for you to take or use whatever it is you’re thanking me for having given you.

or maybe "your welcome to ask/give/recieve/etc. any time

When you say “You are welcome” you are either saying, “you are gladly accepted”, or you are saying something is freely given.

I always assumed it meant “you’re welcome to it.”

For the longest time I couldn’t figure out “Il n’y a pas de quoi” (or the Spanish “no hay de qué”), but I did recently puzzle it out: my theory is “il n’y a pas de quoi me remercier” (there is nothing for which to thank me).

I’ve yet to figure out why Italians say “I pray” and Germans say “please.”

It is “You are welcome to it”, and by implication, anything else I have to offer. Realize “welcome” is actually “well come,” or “It is well that you have come,” or very loosely, “I am so honored by your presence that I would do anything to keep you happy while you are here.”

Germans say “please” because the word “Bitte” in German (etymology unknown to me) is used informally as both “please” and “you’re welcome” so when Germans are learning English, it can get confusing. A German would say, “Eine bier, bitte,” (a beer, please) to his server, and then when she brought it, he would say “Danke” (thank you). Her reply would be “bitte.” You can figure out that a direct/literal translation to English of this conversation would be puzzling to an English-speaker.

Most European versions of “you’re welcome” end up translating as “It’s nothing,” or “You deserve more / I offer all that and more”. IIRC, the Japanese versions are almost apologies, along the lines of “Forgive me for placing you in my debt,” or “I am sorry to have shamed you by offering my help (and implying you were at a loss).”

I have no idea why Italians say “I pray” (I’ve never been to Italy or had to work with Italians).

Less to remember, I’d bet. Why invent a third thing when you can just repeat what was just said?

German efficiency strikes again! :wink:

(For all of you who are left out, a typical exchange of this type goes, in German,

P1: “Bitte”
P2 does/gives something
P1: “Danke” (maybe “Danke schoen” if he/she wants to say “Thank you very much”)
P2: “Bitte”

Simple and efficient, as I said. :D)

Since in Spanish “hay de qué” is “to have to, must,” “no hay de qué” basically means “it’s unnecessary [to thank me]”. Similarly, “de nada”, “it’s nothing;” in French, “de rien.”

Derleth: Modern Hebrew also uses the same word, b’vakasha, for both “please” and “you’re welcome,” and no one who knows Israelis would accuse them of being efficient. :wink: (There are a lot of modern Hebrew constructions borrowed from various European languages, so this is probably one of them.)

Yiddish (at least, the dialect I know) uses the phrase nishto farvoss (“there’s nothing for which”) - an exact translation of the French expression matt_mcl mentioned, so probably also a borrowing.

I cracked up a few years ago over a letter to Dear Abby, in which some old biddy was ranting about people who say, “No problem” instead of “You’re welcome.” She was quite irate about it. “What’s wrong with young people these days?” she wailed.

I’m thinking to myself, chuckling, "Lady, just about every other language in the world uses the general equivalent of “no problem” instead of “you’re welcome”.