Thursday, 12 July 2012

Nice to meet you

Today I would like to write about a very common  situation in our everyday life- meeting new people and keeping in touch. It is important to know how to do it in a foreign language. In order to communicate successfully it is also vital to know cultural differences in the attitude of different nationalities. 

I am sure you will all agree with the point that when meeting a person for the first time we want to make a favourable (положительный) first impression. The say: ”You never get the second chance to make the first impression”.  Being like a dead fish (expressing no emotions) does not help to make contacts and to stay in touch. Smiling to people and being friendly is the key to success. But the attitude to smile is not the same in all cultures and not every smile conveys the same meaning.

A smile is very expressive and it can mean so many different things. There can be:
Pleased smile- довольная улыбка
Plastic smile – неискренняя улыбка
Triumphant smile – победоносная, ликующая улыбка
Flirtatious smile – кокетливая улыбка
Approval smile – одобрительная улыбка
Scornful smile – презрительная улыбка
Gloating smile – злорадная улыбка
Loving smile – нежная улыбка
Joyous smile – радостная улыбка
Painted-on smile – деланная улыбка
Embarrassed smile – смущённая улыбка
Smug smile- самодовольная улыбка
Welcoming smile –приветливая улыбка
Apologetic smile- виноватая улыбка
Winning smile – обаятельная улыбка
Smirk - ухмылка
Grin - ухмылка

In western countries it is polite to smile when meeting someone. Smiles are necessary when greeting people and having a polite conversation. The more the person smiles the more friendly he or she is thought to be.
In some cultures people learned to control their natural instinct to smile. In some Asian cultures for instance people smile less because of social pressure that discourages emotional displays. In Japan  the smile is seen less often than in the USA. The Americans are among the most smiley nationalities in the world.  

Russians on the contrary don’t smile without a reason. We are probably the only nationality which have the saying translated as : “Laughter  without a reason is the sign of foolishness or psychological problems”. A Russian smile shows that a smiling person likes you or is close to you. We (Russians) usually don’t show this type of affection to strangers. So in Russia a smile is an expression of good spirits of a good attitude to the partner. A Russian needs a reason to smile which is obvious to others. Only in this case they are given the right to smile from the other’s point of view.

So as we see smiling when meeting people for the first time and making contact is very important in western countries. And below is the list of phrases which will help you express yourself in English in the situation of first meetings and keeping in touch after. The suggested expressions are mostly for the formal situation which we can face in business environment for instance:

Nice to meet you. –  Приятно познакомиться.
Pleased to meet you. – Рад знакомству.
Glad to meet you. –Рад познакомиться.
Pleasure to make your acquaintance. – тоже
Pleasure to meet you. – тоже
The Pleasure is mine.(used to answer back) – Взаимно.
It was nice meeting you. – Было приятно познакомиться.
It was a pleasure meeting you.Было приятно познакомиться.

The phrases It was nice meeting you. and It was a pleasure meeting you. are used when saying good-bye at the end of the first meeting.  
For example, - Good-bye. It was nice meeting you. 
How do you do!How do you do! (this phrase is originally used at first meetings and the answer to it requires the same phrase and it sounds very formal. But recently it came to be used more and more instead of “How are you?” and is answered accordingly).
Here you can find more detailed explanations of the usage of the phrase How do you do?:

We ask each other a simple question “How are you?” every day. The expressions below will give you other ways to ask the same which can help to make your speech more expressive:

    How are you? – как дела?
    How's it going? – тоже
    How are things? – тоже
    How have you been? – как ты?
    What’s up? – как дела? (the answer is usually - Nothing much.)
    What’s happening?– как дела?
    How's life been treating you? – как жизнь?
    What’s new? – что нового?
    How's life? - Как жизнь?
    How's business?- Как работа?
    How's it going in your neck of woods? (informal, idiomatic) – как дела у тебя?

    And here are the most usual answers to the questions. Mostly all questions can be answered with the             same expressions. The phrases are on a scale from good to bad. 

    Outstanding.(Amazing, superb,excellent, terrific, fantastic) – Замечательно.
    I'm great, thanks. - Все замечательно, спасибо. 
    I'm all right, thanks.– Все хорошо, спасибо.
    I'm fine , thank you. – Хорошо, спасибо.
    I'm quite well, thank you. – Вполне нормально, спасибо.
    I'm good, thanks. - Все хорошо, спасибо.
    Pretty good, thank you.Хорошо, спасибо.
    I'm doing well, thanks. – Все идет хорошо, спасибо.
    I'm doing all right, thanks. - то же.
    I'm doing okey, thanks. - Нормально, спасибо.
    Not bad, thanks. – Неплохо,спасибо.
    I can't complain.не жалуюсь.
    Nothing to complain about. – не жалуюсь.
    I've been worse. - Бывало и хуже. 
    I've had worse days.- Бывали дни и хуже. 
    So-so. – так себе.
    I've been better.- Бывало и лучше. 
    I've had better days. - Бывали дни и лучше.
    Could be better. – могло бы быть лучше.
    Not too good actually. – Честно говоря, не очень.
    I'm hanging in there. - Как то выживаю.
    Don't ask! - Не спрашивай!

    Alive and kicking (idiomatic). – Жив, здоров.
    Not so hot (colloquial) – Не очень.

It should be mentioned that to answer the “How are you?” question people tend to use positive answers. They won’t go into details of their problems. Even if they don’t feel too good- they will still answer “I am fine thanks” or any synonym of that.
To wind up everything that was said above I would like to share one song. And I would like you to remember that as someone said: “The shortest distance between people is the smile”. So let’s keep smiling because no matter what language we speak “We all laugh in the same language”


Cheburashka said...

Nice blog :)

Elena Matveeva said...

Thank you and welcome :)

Elena Matveeva said...


Elena Matveeva said...

I suggest we all write how to greet people in our language. Let;s write the phrase "Hello, How are you? - I am fine thanks and you?" in as many different languages as possible.
Russian language: Privet. Kak dela? - Horosho, a u tebya?

Elena Matveeva said...


Hrishabh said...

Constructive article !!! Loved the “We all laugh in the same language".. Kudos hey !!! :)

Elena Matveeva said...

Thanks a lot for the comment :)

Unknown said...

Very nice post, I should say.

Elena Matveeva said...

I am glad you liked it :) Thanks :)

Asmar said...

the one who talk about "the smiles", i think he's ( a smiles drawer) in his real life... go ahead.. that' so great to me...

Elena Matveeva said...

Thank you so much for the comment :)
And come back for more :)

Anonymous said...

Re. Elena's suggestion (of July 12th):

- "Hello, How are you? - I am fine thanks and you?" (English)
- "Привет. Как дела? - Хорошо, а у тебя?" (Russian)
- "Hallo, wie geht's? - Danke,gut. Und selber?" (German)
- "Salut, ça va? - Bien, merci. Et toi?" (French)
- "Hej, hvordan går det? - Det går godt, tak. Hvad med dig?" (Danish)

Anonymous said...

p.s., as they say:
in conflict, smiling is the nicest way to bare your teeth. ;=)

Elena Matveeva said...

Thanks a lot for the comment :) Keep them coming :)

Elena Matveeva said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saparmurat Nijazov-arcadius said...

arcadius-Saparmurat Nijazov:
Hello! How are you? - Здраво. Како си? Ја сам добро (Добро сам) , а ти? or you can say Ја сам OK, а ти? (young generation mainly) As you can see, you can omit pronoun Ja-I and invert personal pronoun and verb. When you discuss it with the linguists, they'll tell you that only 1st version is right, but though 2nd is according to them colloquial not scholar one, it's widely spread. The main thing in every language is to speak clearly that language so people can understand you.

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