Think You Always Say Thank You? Oh, Please 你可以再多說些謝謝
It is a staple of language classes and parental lectures: Say thank you.
But as it turns out, human beings say thank you far less often than we might think.
A new study of everyday language use around the world has found that, in informal settings, people almost always complied with requests for an object, service or help. For their efforts, they received expressions of gratitude only rarely — in about 1 of 20 occasions.
The study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, is part of a broader effort to look at language as a tool grounded primarily in social interaction, rather than as a vehicle for the expression of ideas.
In the new paper, called "Universals and Cultural Diversity in the Expression of Gratitude," a team looked at interactions in eight languages on five continents: English, Italian, Polish, Russian, Lao, Cha'palaa (spoken in Ecuador), Murrinhpatha (an aboriginal language in Australia) and Siwu (spoken in Ghana).
The researchers did not examine institutional or business settings, where expressions of thanks might be more common, but focused on casual daily interactions among people who knew one another, as captured by unattended cameras set up in homes or community areas. Any verbal expressions of gratitude (including, in English, phrases like "good job" or "sweet") were counted as expressions of thanks.
People signal the need for assistance frequently: about every minute and a half, according to the researchers' samples. And they usually get it: Requests were complied with about seven times more often than not.
But those who cooperated were very rarely thanked, nor did they seem to expect it. When no thanks were given, the omission was very rarely commented on.
Secular Europe Rises, and Pope Looks to South 歐洲世俗化 教宗寄望南半球
When nearly one-third of Ireland's Catholic population came to see St. John Paul II, then the pope, celebrate a papal mass in Dublin in 1979, divorce, homosexual acts and abortion were all against the law in the country. Ireland, like much of Europe, toed the line on Roman Catholic Church teaching.
In August, Pope Francis will return to Ireland for a World Meeting of Families event attended by the church's most committed anti-abortion activists. But they will find themselves, after last month's historic repeal of an abortion ban in a landslide vote, in a country that is clearly part of Europe's secular sprint out of the Roman Catholic fold.
Across Western Europe, the church's once mighty footprint has faded, in no small measure because of self-inflicted clerical sex abuse scandals and an inability to keep up with and reach contemporary Catholics. Church attendance has plummeted, parishes are merging, and new priests and nuns are in short supply. Same-sex marriage is on the rise, and abortion is widely legal.
Instead, he has shifted his focus on the faith's future to the global South from which he came. At the heart of Francis' vision is a closeness of priests to the poor and desolate whom he believes the church should most serve.
But the Argentine pontiff clearly believes that emphasizing a poor church ministering to the world's outcasts is a more authentic, appealing — and ultimately evangelizing — global message than a defense of orthodoxy and Europe's Christian roots.
The challenge for Francis is to keep the present decline of the church in Europe from becoming a preview of its future in South America and Africa.
Inoculating the Southern Hemisphere from the growing scourge of sex abuse scandals, spreading secularism and out-of-touch clergy that devastated Catholicism in Europe is no easy task and will require much of the pope's attention.
In Brazil, which has the world's largest Catholic population, evangelicals preaching prosperity gospels are giving stiff competition to Catholicism, which is projected to become a minority faith in 2030. Francis made Brazil his first trip overseas after his election.