Good day, sir, how are you?
Excuse me, Would you please direct me to the library?
May I please have another cup of coffee?
Pardon me miss, how far is it from here to the station?
When a person is learning a foreign language, or a few helpful phrases before going on vacation to a foreign country, they generally learn sentences like the ones listed above. Polite phrases. If you are a stranger in a strange land and are not a master of the native tongue the least you can do is give it a try in the most polite way possible. But is it just traveler’s Italian, French, Spanish, etc. that urges politesse? These conversational preambles also exist in English. Or, should I say, “American.” So why don’t we use them anymore?
Donde esta Susana?
Esta en la cocina?
I can’t tell you the number of times that folks have come up to me while I am on the phone, or in conversation with someone else, and just launched into whatever is on their mind or about something they want, blah, blah, blah, whatever.
Is everyone in such a hurry? Take a breath and wait your turn. I wonder if I would have noticed this conversational erosion as much if I didn’t have a six-year-old who does the same thing. But I can say to her that she needs to slow down and wait until it’s her turn and Mommy is done talking. That she is rude if she tries to talk or otherwise be loud or distracting while I am on the phone. What do I say to the grown-ups?
Mi potrebbe dare alcune informazione?
Con molto piacere.
I really want to know when the baby boomers decided that being polite, even civil, was for the birds. My generation has its conversational issues, but even a “Hey dude,” while heavy on the Keanu, is an acceptable preamble. Especially when compared to busting in mid-conversation to inanely ask about those TPS reports.
So what’s a dude who hungers for a little polite conversation to do? Try to be polite, I guess, and hope some good manners bounce back.
Hello there. How are you? Very well, thanks, and you?
How was your weekend? Do you know the way to the dog races?
I think Susanna is in the kitchen.