Monday, August 05, 2019

Phatic Expressions: Why “No Problem” Can Seem Rude

The title of Tom Scott's latest video drew me in because, at my age, I am jarred when someone responds to "Thank you" with "No problem." Wait, you just gave me change for a purchase. Was there ever a question of it being a problem? But then I think, hey, they are just trying to be polite. It's a fairly new "phatic expression," as Scott explains. Phatic expressions are known and understood by people who use them, even though they have no literal meaning at all. Across cultures and age groups, they can seem totally confusing or even rude. The best thing to do is just go with it. 

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