03 June 2015

What ‘Welcome’ Means in Response to ‘Thank You’


Although we Filipinos are not native English-speakers, most of us were taught at an early age by our parents to say ‘thank you’ when somebody does a favour for us. We were also taught that the polite response to ‘thank you’ would be ‘you are welcome’ or just ‘welcome.’

In a way, the response is also a bit confusing, especially to children, because the word welcome is also used when receiving visitors.

In Tagalog, the traditional response to ‘salamat’ (thank you) is ‘walang anuman.’ It is the same in Spanish, for which the traditional response to ‘gracias’ is ‘de nada.’

Both mean ‘it’s nothing’ or, more completely, ‘what I did for you was a small thing.’ This is regarded as the polite acknowledgment of somebody’s gratitude.

‘You are welcome,’ of course, is just one of the many ways even native English-speakers may use in response to ‘thank you.’

The word welcome is derived from the Old English word ‘wilcuma,’ which means one whose coming is pleasant.

There are similar words in other Germanic and Scandinavian languages: wolkom (West Frisian), welkom (Dutch), willkommen (German), velkommen (Danish and Norwegian), välkommen (Swedish) and velkomin (Icelandic).

In Middle English, the word evolved to become wolcume, wulcume, wilcume and subsequently its modern version welcome.

Since the word was originally used in the context of accepting guests or letting them know that they were acceptable and could stay, among the modern meanings that the word evolved is ‘to gladly accept.’

Thus, when somebody says thanks to you and you respond by saying ‘you’re welcome’ or ‘welcome,’ you are telling the person that his or her gratitude is gladly accepted or accepted with pleasure.

Resource:  Advanced English Dictionary


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