No Worries – you’re welcome, eh :)

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

Stop saying ‘no worries‘ if that is not what you mean!

Language, dialects, and accents are among the more obvious indicators of cultural traits and indeed language is dynamic.

I enjoy accents in all the languages I know and am very interested in understanding regional linguistic trends. Yet I find myself a little – really only mildly – annoyed by the supplanting of the classic ‘you’re welcome’ with the much more casual ‘no worries.’

Canadian English has often been accused of being rather nondescript, whereas Australian vernacular is among the most distinct in the English-speaking world. Both are charming in their own way and both cultures appealing and similar in lifestyle.

As commonwealth countries with travelling populations, Canadians and Australians exchange work visas and enthusiastically enjoy each-others’ countries.

Canadians travel to the southern hemisphere to surf, warm up and discover really interesting animals. Australians come north to climb mountains, ski (or more often snowboard) and even learn a little french.

Here in the Canadian Rockies, we are particularly dependant upon foreign labour in our markedly seasonal businesses.

Guaranteed on virtually any ski resort in Western Canada, one will meet workers from across Canada, as well as from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and increasingly from Chile, Costa Rica and parts of Europe. This mixing is really fun, intensely cultural and contributes to a genuine hospitality and enjoyment of the environment.

So why am I mildly perturbed by ‘no worries?’

I think the answer is two-part;

A) According to Canadian and even North American syntax, no worries really should apply much in the way of de nada in Spanish or de rien in French. It means something really was not an inconvenience; “thank you for turning the light on,” or “thanks for holding the door.” “No worries – it really was nothing and I was pleased to do it.”

This is quite different from a commercial exchange where I have paid for a service. While not always true, Canadians are famous for their polite friendliness. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ are important and expected. Therefore when I buy something – be it a latte or a full meal – I say ‘thank you’ and most certainly expect my son to do the same – and to mean it. The response to a complete ‘thank you’ is “you’re welcome”.

Here, at least, it is not; ‘uh huh,’ ‘that’s ok,’ ‘no problem,’ or ‘no worries’. These may all be culturally acceptable responses in other regions and of course, that is fine.

Yet the B) to our two-part answer is probably cultural. The fact ‘no worries’ has increasingly found a home in North America is a simple reality, but as it is an adopted phrase, it would be nice if it were applied appropriately.

There really is nothing deeper to this contribution than to comment upon this linguistic peculiarity that has become increasingly common. I love our cultural mixing, I love accents and I embrace language.

I have no worries at all if you disagree and most certainly welcome you to share these thoughts and offer your views.

Thank you. Oh – and … “Have a good one, eh!”

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