The PR Language series will sporadically discuss "rules" of the Public Relation language, as observed in the field. As with almost everything else in bpigs: use at your own risk!
PR is a risky business. Anybody could be Somebody any minute (and Nobody the next), you do not want to risk displeasing a conversation partner, who might eventually outrank you, or gets to know somebody who does. You have to know what is happening, you have to be happening yourself, visit events, shows, art fairs around the globe and read/answer about 200 emails a day. It does not help that nobody really understands what the other one is talking about 80 % of the time.
The language used through this frantic (international english) communication has been shaped to fit. We have already discussed the phenomenon of affirmative negation, today we will look at the curious seriality (surreality) of using the word "Thanks"
You say it to your grandmother for the extra pocket money, to UPS for carrying the package up the stairs (which NEVER happens), to a guy for telling you look beautiful tonight, to the stranger for saying “Gesundheit!“ on the train. Whether absentmindedly or wholeheartedly this word allows us a short moment of acknowledging our interaction on this planet, a nod to our fellow human, a show of respect.
In the Art and Business world the same word has taken a slightly different undertone. In fact its use over frantic email exchange and wooden ceremonial language gets stretched by repetition to the very other extreme. The word Thanks is something of a passepartous. A conversation opener and a conversation closer, the standard opening line in emails and a must-have closing line as well, especially in emails communicating an order, or a disagreement. A social greeting, a farewell, a conversation filler.
While the literate use of the word is to express gratitude its use in this context is expressing disregard, disrespect and a mild or outward resentment for its subject. I am sure you can fill in the translations yourselves:
Thank you for the invitation! (Zicke!)
Thank you for coming! (Kuh!)
Thanks for dinner! (it was very clear you were paying)
Thanks for the drinks! - (ditto)
Thank you for this question... (Which I have no idea how to answer)
Thank you for this observation – (what an ash!!)
Thank you for the prompt answer – (that took ages)
Thank you for answering my questions - (I still have no idea what you are talking about)
Thanks for making that clear for me - (you are being rude)
Thank you for your consideration. – (not hiring me is the biggest mistake you ever made)
Politeness, of the genuine or the gritted teeth variety, is a prerequisite in the art and any business world, there is really no way around it. Shouting will rarely prove your point and will most likely get you fired and angry emails have a way of becoming public. Remember?
Aggression does need an outlet however, the winter has been long, so Bpigs came up with a word- blend: A blend between the word you really want to say (correctly guessed, this is the F Word). And the word you have to say, in order not to be labeled as a raving lunatic. Or for the ladies as "emotional" .
Next time instead of saying "Thanks" without meaning it – put up your best smile and say "Fhanks!". The voiceless dental fricative /θ/ (thing) and the equally unvoiced f /f/ sound are very close, nobody will notice.
(unless they have also read this, in which case it might get awkward).