The practice of saying ‘thank you’ – of expressing gratitude to someone for an act of kindness – is a fundamental element in the way we interact with one another. But, what does it actually mean?
The Latin Origins
The word ‘thank’ stems from the Latin word tongēre, the root of which is the word for think. As a whole, this loosely translates to “I will remember what you have done for me.” Saying thank you is a future promise to always appreciate the past. These Latin origins also make us reflect upon the importance of thinking. To thank someone is to think about what they have done for you. The act of thinking is why thanking someone is so important. When you say thank you, you are also saying “I am thinking about you and how you have helped me.”
What does Thank You mean in other languages?
In Japanese, ありがとう (Arigatou) is the phrase used to say thanks. It is derived from the word, arigatashi – Aru, meaning “to exist,” and katai, meaning “difficult.” Japanese-speakers would use this phrase to mean “extremely uncommon” and “rare and precious.” By this merit, the moment of saying thank you is something to be cherished. Although it is only two words, they should not be taken for granted. Instead they should be appreciated for what they represent – a rare and precious moment.
In France, the modern use of merci comes from the Old French meaning of the word mercit which means “reward, gift, kindness and grace.” Saying thank you is a gift. A gift doesn’t need to be wrapped in shiny paper and topped with a bow, instead it can be two simple words.
Always remember to say thank you and appreciate those who have done so much for you.
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