Tuesday, January 7, 2014

You're Welcome or We Thank God

What can I say, something that bugged me about the Nigerian dialect of English has become part of my own outlook that American formalities sometimes seem trite in comparison.


"Your song really touched me today, Dorcas!" I would sincerely exclaim to a Nigerian sister.  "We thank God,"  came back the response.  "Thank you for responding so quickly to my email, Paul."  "We thank God," my co-worker would respond with a shining, warm smile.  'Ah...yeah,' I was thinking to myself.  'I do thank God...kind of, but I was actually thanking YOU!  I thank God for you, but he didn't write me the email!'
However, after hearing this response again and again, day after day, I started to wonder if there wasn't something precious about a constant "thanksgiving!" Just like "How are you?" and "You're welcome,"  "Thank God" can become common and meaningless.  But for this American who doesn't get to thank my God openly every time a moment of His goodness passes my way, it became special.


The other day one of my many dear sis-in-laws said cheerfully, "Thanks for helping me with dinner, Christy!" I had to will myself to say, "You're welcome," but realized that I don't even know what that means to me except that I most certainly did something you should be thankful that I did...for you...and I will accept your thanks for this task well accomplished by...none other...than me!
  "We thank God"  is clear as todays winter sky, but "You're welcome", well...I guess just as every culture learns and relearns the meaning of language as it changes through time and culture, this common response to a service rendered will become as natural as eating apple pie at Christmas after a year in the states...just in time to say "We thank God" all over again! 

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