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Useful list of things to say when asked to switch seats

Useful list of things to say when asked to switch seats

Old Feb 9, 09, 11:00 am
  #91  
 
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Originally Posted by Rambuster View Post
I always ask where the persons seat is and evaluate on the spot if it's a better seat than my current selection or not. If it is a seat of "equal value" I am usually a nice guy. If it is a terrible seat swap a simple "No thank you" usually does the trick.
Don't forget to ask the requestor to see his/her boarding pass to confirm the other seat. Get burned once by this and you'll learn the hard way (ask me why I know this).

As a big fella (6'3" and 250+) I also like to evaluate my prospective seatmate, if he/she is in place already. For obvious reasons I don't prefer to seat next to another "me" if I have a choice.

Last edited by drat19; Feb 9, 09 at 11:39 am
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Old Feb 9, 09, 11:30 am
  #92  
 
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Originally Posted by AlecM View Post
Hmm... I'll admit I've used that more out of common usage than out of really thinking of its implications when refusing a request. The points brought up are interesting - I will probably avoid its usage in the future under those circumstances.

My favorite usage peeve, however, is "no problem" instead of "you're welcome". In my mind it both:
- Unnecessarily implies that the favor granted could have been an imposition (a "problem) . If it really was, there are other ways to express it "("well, it was a challenge, but ...)- if it wasn't, why even bring up the possibility?

- Diminishes the actual favor done, to the disadvantage of the one who did it - instead of "it was a pleasure to have been able to help" it says "it wasn't a problem for me to do it." - to me, the latter seems somewhat less "points-worthy" than the former.

Just thoughts. YMMV.

Alec in PVD
Good thought, Alec. I admit being guilty of that in informal settings but none of my friends was ever tough enough to correct me.

In French, German, Italian and Spanish this same problem might present itself, too. Interestingly, the French, Spanish and Italians respond to a "thank you" with a "for nothing!" De rien, de nada or di niente, which also diminishes the original request but the favor granted as well. The German language has several correct answers. There is a simple "Bitte schoen" that is rarely used and a bit old-fashioned. There is a "Gern geschehen" which is the standard and means "I gladly helped you". And, particularly, in the north, there is the more familiar"Dafuer nicht." That is the equivalent of "No need to thank me for that". Kind of like "de nada" or "don't mention it" but I think it is the most diminishing answer and I always found it a strange way to reply when living in Hamburg.
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Old Feb 9, 09, 11:45 am
  #93  
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Originally Posted by tfar View Post
Good thought, Alec. I admit being guilty of that in informal settings but none of my friends was ever tough enough to correct me.

In French, German, Italian and Spanish this same problem might present itself, too. Interestingly, the French, Spanish and Italians respond to a "thank you" with a "for nothing!" De rien, de nada or di niente, which also diminishes the original request but the favor granted as well. The German language has several correct answers. There is a simple "Bitte schoen" that is rarely used and a bit old-fashioned. There is a "Gern geschehen" which is the standard and means "I gladly helped you". And, particularly, in the north, there is the more familiar"Dafuer nicht." That is the equivalent of "No need to thank me for that". Kind of like "de nada" or "don't mention it" but I think it is the most diminishing answer and I always found it a strange way to reply when living in Hamburg.
I've always understood "de rein" to mean (idiomatically), "it's nothing," i.e. "I haven't really done anything" -- the French colloquial equivalent of, "no problem," as response to being thanked for doing something. In any event, "for nothing," in French would be, "pour rien," and has a very different meaning than "de rien."
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Old Feb 9, 09, 1:37 pm
  #94  
 
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This is actually not a seat-switch, but a jetBlue flight attendant asked me to move from 11D (exit row, aisle) to 11E so that she could move a couple to 11C-D (because apparently his DirectTV didn't work).

So I raised my head, saying "I paid extra for this seat" then turned back to staring at my laptop screen.
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Old Feb 9, 09, 1:48 pm
  #95  
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Avoiding the potential difficulty with seat swaps is one of the benefits of going straight to sleep as soon as you reach your seat.
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Old Feb 9, 09, 1:50 pm
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Originally Posted by tfar View Post
The German language has several correct answers. There is a simple "Bitte schoen" that is rarely used and a bit old-fashioned. There is a "Gern geschehen" which is the standard and means "I gladly helped you". And, particularly, in the north, there is the more familiar"Dafuer nicht." That is the equivalent of "No need to thank me for that". Kind of like "de nada" or "don't mention it" but I think it is the most diminishing answer and I always found it a strange way to reply when living in Hamburg.
Macht nichts is also quite common; the literal translation is "(It) makes nothing," and the rough translation is about equivalent to Dafür nichts or de rien.
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Old Feb 9, 09, 10:46 pm
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Originally Posted by PTravel View Post
I've always understood "de rein" to mean (idiomatically), "it's nothing," i.e. "I haven't really done anything" -- the French colloquial equivalent of, "no problem," as response to being thanked for doing something. In any event, "for nothing," in French would be, "pour rien," and has a very different meaning than "de rien."
Yes, your logic holds true when you don't know where it comes from. It would even be possible to say "pour rien" but it would be as unusual as the Hamburgish "Dafuer nicht".

The "de rien" is a direct answer to the simple word merci. Merci is the short form of "Je vous remercie". That means "I thank you". Now, the "de" comes into the equation when we wonder for what the person thanks us. Remercier in formal French goes with "de" and not with "pour". It requires the genitive just as "La ringrazio di" or "Le agradesco de..." does. They are all latin based. So the full sentence would be "Je vous remercie de m'avoir aide". I thank you for (of) helping me. Thus the full answer would be "Vous me remerciez de rien" or Ne me remerciez de rien. This basically means "There is nothing to thank me for". You interpret that correctly in terms of sense to mean "I haven't really done anything that would be worth thanking me for".

The reason you want to put "pour" instead of "de" in your translation of "dafuer nicht is that in English, the thank you formula carries the dative, as in "thanks to". So the French would say "de rien" and the de would refer to the act of having helped, for which the other person thanked them.

I have heard people say "pour rien" but it's really colloquial, like "no problem", as you say. But while you are correct for sense, the etymological and semantic background is a bit more complicated.

Now, there would be a way of saying "it's nothing" and directly translating that to "C'est rien". This is actually used more often but is still colloquial. You wouldn't say it to a stranger unless the stranger really doesn't let off and continues to thank you while you want to be on your way. So for example, if you were shopping at the BHV (where clerks are generally rude), they might say that when you thank them for pointing you to the right aisle. In this case they'd get a stern glance. At the Bon Marche which is anything else than cheap or even price worthy (as the name would indicate), a good clerk will say "avec plaisir" or "a votre disposition". I admit that this is the kind of formulaic etiquette stuff denoting class that Sam got so hung up on. For me, a simple "de rien" will do but I must concede that I appreciate the elegance that goes with "At your service, Sir".

Ajax, are you sure you have heard "Macht nichts" as an answer for "Thank you"? I am German and have lived all over the place from the high north to the deep south and I have not once heard that as an answer to thanks. It would be possible but would require a huge semantic detour. Really, I've never heard that and wouldn't use it. It is however used as the standard answer to an apology, especially if it's something small like you accidentally stepped on somebody's foot or you mixed up carts in the supermarket. In this case "Kein Problem" or "Macht nichts" would be the standard answers.

Now, for something more serious like being late to an appointment "macht nichts" already wouldn't work anymore or at least not well. "Kein Problem" would be familiar and "Schon verziehen" would be appropriate. It means "already pardoned".

Wow, whodda thunk this thread took us into the depth of etiquette, class studies and five different languages. A true traveler's forum.

Till
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Old Feb 9, 09, 11:14 pm
  #98  
 
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Is there any way that we just don't have to do anything but to change expression on our face to the requestor?
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Old Feb 9, 09, 11:40 pm
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Originally Posted by General_Flyer View Post
Is there any way that we just don't have to do anything but to change expression on our face to the requestor?
I'm sure that would work. You go first posting a photo of yourself with the suggested facial expression...
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Old Feb 10, 09, 12:06 am
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Originally Posted by tfar View Post
I'm sure that would work. You go first posting a photo of yourself with the suggested facial expression...
That might be waiting for a long time since I have no idea what type of expression I'm going to wear..
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Old Feb 10, 09, 1:05 pm
  #101  
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Je ne comprends pas

Response:

Looking up from magazine with extreme disinterest in the person asking to change seats:

"Sorry, I don't understand".

Immerse yourself in the magazine once more. Ignore them. They will go away.

I hate confrontations of any kind on an aircraft. To be avoided.

Many confrontations can be avoided by (a) not answering (b) ignoring and (c) shaking your head of (d) pointing to the earplugs in your ears and mouthing 'can't hear you'.
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Old Feb 10, 09, 1:43 pm
  #102  
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How about responding with, "Why would I want to do that?" Surely that's a legitimate question, and surely it's reasonable to expect someone who wants your assigned seat to have a good answer to it.
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Old Feb 10, 09, 1:50 pm
  #103  
 
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How bout, "NO."?

Can I switch seats with you? No. End of discussion.
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Old Feb 12, 09, 8:48 am
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A welcome expression

Originally Posted by tfar View Post
I'm sure that would work. You go first posting a photo of yourself with the suggested facial expression...
Would we need facial expressions in various languages?

I am of course familiar w/ "de nada" (being a native Spanish speaker) - somehow, when compared with "no problem" it feels politely deprecating (as in "I know I did you a favor, I appreciate you thanking me for it, let's complete the formula and make no more of it") whereas the "no problem" is more diminishing of the favor.

However, I can't quite put my finger on exactly why - aside from being trained to/comfortable with "de nada" and feeling that "no problem" comes across as abrupt.

A variant I've heard a few times in French (I can specifically remember Strasbourg, for some reason, because it's the first time I heard it) was "je vous en prie" ("I beg you") which I perceived as a hyperpolite abbreviation of ("I beg you to make no more of it.") Francophones may jump in to correct me.
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Old Feb 12, 09, 11:50 am
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Smile

Originally Posted by daniellam View Post
"I booked my seat 10 months ago!"

"That will be $3000 please" (or 1/2 of what ever price you paid for your ticket in in F/J)
Now, that is the best reply I have ever seen. But on the other hand, I have switched if it is a couple and the seat is pretty simular. Sometimes it is a parent wanting to sit with their child.
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