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How “please”stopped being polite

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How “please”stopped being polite Empty How “please”stopped being polite

Message  MurielB Lun 19 Juin - 17:49

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2023/03/polite-words-is-please-rude/673397/
The phrase if it please you has been shortened and shortened over time—until it’s become more brusque than courteous.
By Walker Mimms
The word "please" in cursive script on a white background, pierced by nails poking through

Growing up in a strict household, I was taught to honor etiquette; I still call my elders “sir” and “ma’am,” and I always say thank you. But I almost never use the word please. I’d happily ask someone “Could you shut the window?,” but the request “Please shut the window” sounds terribly impatient and terse.

Although the word still appears in print and speech, I’m not the only one who’s noticed that its usage—and reception—seems to be changing. What happened?

When it first entered the English language, sometime in the 1300s, the verb please was meant as a display of deference: The phrase, typically, was if it please you, translated from the French s’il vous plaît. (“And if it please you … that I may be made knyghte,” asks the honorable huntsman Tristram, for instance, in Thomas Malory’s 15th-century English epic Le Morte d’Arthur.) Go to Paris today, and you will find the humble s’il vous plaît alive and well. But in English, the phrase took a turn.

By the 16th century, four words had become three: If it please you had slipped into if you please. Then three became two—“Please you to have a little patience,” wrote James Shirley in the 1659 play Honoria and Mammon. Then, finally, two became one; in 1771, a London merchant wrote, “Please send the inclosed to the Port office”—the first instance found by The Oxford English Dictionary of the adverb, and a prime example of its graceless urgency. With each diminution of the phrase, the speaker lost some regard for his hearer and gained some regard for himself.
The shortened please has nevertheless lived on for centuries. After I emailed the psychologist Steven Pinker, who chaired The American Heritage Dictionary’s Usage Panel before its dissolution in 2018, about the adverb, he tracked its use over time in fiction—a rough approximation of conversational speech. He found that from 1860 to 2012, it enjoyed a steady increase; instances of if you please declined in the same period. Pinker offered that its rise might have reflected a trend toward “informalization”: The adverb form’s casual efficiency may have been just what sparked its popularity. But eventually, it might have drifted too far in the direction of informality.
The shortened please has nevertheless lived on for centuries. After I emailed the psychologist Steven Pinker, who chaired The American Heritage Dictionary’s Usage Panel before its dissolution in 2018, about the adverb, he tracked its use over time in fiction—a rough approximation of conversational speech. He found that from 1860 to 2012, it enjoyed a steady increase; instances of if you please declined in the same period. Pinker offered that its rise might have reflected a trend toward “informalization”: The adverb form’s casual efficiency may have been just what sparked its popularity. But eventually, it might have drifted too far in the direction of informality.
Of course we can use other ways instead like "would you mind" or "could you" for example. “please" can of course convey anger, desesperation..without true politeness.The important thing is the tone of the sentence and the intention of the person speaking: Anything that expresses respect for a person is welcome

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MurielB
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