Monday, October 17, 2011

Sufficient Enough Thank You's

In Norwegian Thank you is 'Takk' and the equivalent of Thank You Very Much is 'Tusen Takk'. However whenever I have used the Norwegian versions here in day to day life I have always felt like it was lacking a punch of some sort, or never conveyed my gratitude enough -  but I could not quite put it in words.

I've just read an amazing book called 'Mornings in Jenin'  (as a side note a must read) and it so happened that around the same time i was playing with the impact of 'Takk vrs Thank you' I came upon a paragraph that just explained what I felt.

**"Thank you" I answered, unsure of the proper American response to her gracious enthusiasm. In the Arab world, gratitude is a language unto itself, "May Allah bless the hands that give me this gift"; "Beauty is in your eyes that find me pretty"; "May God extend your life"; "May Allah never deny your prayer"; "May the next meal you cook for us be in celebration of your son's wedding...of your daughter's graduation...your mother's recovery"; and so on, an infinite string of prayerful appreciation. Coming from such a culture, I have always found a mere "thank you" an insufficient expression that makes my voice sound miserly and ungrateful.**

I liked the simplicity with which this paragraph echoed my thoughts, and also made me realise how a simple word like 'thank you' differs culture to culture, how using another word in place of the one we have learnt to use takes a very long time to seem right or at the very least enough to express the way we feel.

If at a level of 'thank you' there is such a huge cultural difference imagine how much more culturally understanding we need to be in a world where the starting point of most issues is religion and culture..