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.