Greetings, you are welcome

I enjoy the Ghanaian attentiveness to kind greetings. How often Americans say “Hi-how-are-you” as a practiced statement. What’s worse are the people who have the practiced auto-reply of “fine-thanks-howareyou.” (I used to respond to that reply saying “finethankshowareyou” and would usually receive a pause followed “…um.”)

I am greeted by Ghanains who say, “you are welcome.” That confused me at first. I wanted to reply, “thank you.” But in American rituals, “thank you” comes before “you’re welcome.” Inevitably I ended up feeling turned around.

Then I began to listen more closely and hear “You are Welcome” as if to imply that I was indeed a welcomed guest into this person’s space or place.  I welcome you here; or, you are welcome to the time that I have to share with you.

Now I imagine a new implication of teaching table-manners at home in America. What if “the magic word” (please, or thank you) became “how do you tell her you are particularly fond of her?” (You are welcome).

Try it on someone.

5 responses to “Greetings, you are welcome

  1. Very profound! As I read the meaning behind the “You are Welcome” I felt comfort, embraced and loved. I shall give this a try….

  2. Interesting observation Dr. Neville. Thank you for sharing. In Mexico, I’ve noticed when asked “Hi. How are you?” many people reply “doing well, thanks be to God” as the practiced auto-reply.

    • Interesting Hector. You remind me that an Indonesian friend once told me that people in his country greeted by asking “Have you eaten today?” I wonder what their honest or auto-reply might be.

  3. Fun reading about our beloved Ghana through your eyes!

    There will come a day when you’ll hear “Am I invited?” It is asking permission to enter a room that you have command/authority over.

    As to the “have you eaten today?” I believe it is China, in which the proper greeting once was “Have you had your rice today?” Today, I’m told the proper response is “Yes, I am very busy” Can anyone verify that?

  4. Their manners make Americans look so mean!! I was talking to the other exchange student about how welcoming everyone is here and how bad we feel for the exchange students back home because in the U.S its very rare for a student to come up to an exchange student and invite them to lunch, sometimes it’s hard to get a smile out of an American!

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