Some will know of my occasional anti-Englishness. Sometimes our over-politeness causes huge complications.
My classic example being the “Do you want the last ….?” question, which actually means “I want the last …. ?”. Why don’t we just say what we mean?
This has been bugging me a bit lately with people who use phrases like “How ya doin’?” and “Alright” as a brief greeting.
Normally this happens in a situation where, by the time you’ve said “Fine thanks, how are you?”, the person you’ve just passed in the corridor is too far away for a proper conversation to begin. But if I just say “Fine thanks”, I feel that I’ve not taken an interest in how the other person is doing. They’ve asked me, it would be polite to ask them back?
Answering “Alright?” with “Alright?” doesn’t seem to make much sense. But if we’re treating the initial “Alright?” as a greeting then I guess that’s…for want of a better word…alright?
I prefer to use peoples’ names. “Hello” by itself doesn’t work for me. But “Hi James” or “Morning Paul” has a higher value – it implies that you know something about them, even if it’s just their name. It shows that I know who they are! And it encourages me to learn people’s names.
OK, OK, maybe I just think too much. But I think this is important. We can take a little piece of communication and use it for something more useful. What if I don’t just know someone’s name, but I know that they’re little baby girl is in hospital. Then my “Hi James” can become compassionate: “Hey James, how’s your girl?”. Then suddenly we’re having a real conversation.
That would be more than alright with me!