__Addendum to Too Many Thank Yous__

3/13/18

Robleh Wais

Since writing the essay on the proliferation of
the salutation *Thank you*, it occurs to me that a mathematical basis for
using the salutatory couplet *Thank you/You’re welcome*, can be
given. I admit much of what follows is
not meant to be interpreted in a serious vein, but it gives me a chance to have
a little fun with the idea.

If we consider the exchange of *Thank
you/You’re welcome* to be a simple arithmetic expression that sums to 0, we
have a solid basis for why these phrases should be used as they normally are.

Let *Thank you *= 1 and let *You’re
welcome *= -1. If this is true then,
the exchange *Thank you/You’re welcome* can be rewritten as 1+-1 = 0. This expression can be interpreted to mean no
further ** salutatory** statement is needed from conversing
parties. Now, let’s consider when two
(or more) persons engaging in salutatory exchanges say

Here we have *Thank you/You’re welcome* as
1*0 = 0 or -1*0= 0. *Thank you *= 1
and *You’re welcome *= 0. I know
that the 0 seems to imply that one party contributes nothing but that doesn’t
have to be the interpretation. And 1 or
-1 doesn’t matter here since the output is 0 in either case. What happens if the parties say *Thank
you/Thank you*? Oh, I’m so glad you
asked! We have -1*-1 = 1 or 1*1= 1. In
either case we have one too many *thank yous*. And yes, you guessed it, somebody has to say
to one *You’re welcome* to balance the exchange. It wouldn’t matter which side of the exchange
did it either. Because a *You’re
welcome* approached from right or left would balance the exchange. So, the next time somebody thanks you for
thanking them, add a *you’re welcome* and tell them politely, *please
don’t thank me again*. And you’ll
know in a mathematical sense why you’re saying that.

I know this is something anybody reading this
would chuckle over, but I just had to take it to this extent. Hmmmm, I wonder how
we could capture a complex number in all of this…..oh
well…

P.S. It may
not be surprising to find that two conversing parties can be mutually *thankful*
to each other. While these same two
parties would not be able to be *welcomeful* to each other. Thus, we can have *Thank you/Thank you*,
but never *You’re welcome/You’re Welcome. * And still, to be thankful is at best redundant
grammatically, and at worst…oh well I won’t say.