Daily Archives: December 17, 2009

The Gift of Thanks by Margaret Visser

I thought that The Gift of Thanks, with its subtitle of “The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude”, would discuss feelings of thankfulness for being alive, or perhaps for a beautiful nature scene but apart from a brief chapter near the end of the book the focus is on how we thank other people for being of service to us — which I found a little reductive. The author explores cultural differences in thanks, how, for instance, the Japanese say I’m sorry where Americans would say thank you. In fact, she spends a lot of time discussing the etymology of the words we use to say thank you, an exercise I would normally enjoy but, repeated over and over, turned me off. Indeed, as early as page 50 we are treated to¬† thanks being am “Illocutionary Force Indicative Device, or charmingly IFID for short… Too bad that linguists can turn charming practices into jargon, huh? There are many charming references to compensate for it but overall I found that the exhaustive analysis of gratitude seriously deters from the warm feeling of it.

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