In Korea, when I say "please", others think that I am servile. In English, do I look servile when I use "please" in conversation? I want to know the intensity of the word "please" in servility.
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(1) A note to the downvoters, which will hopefully also be of use to 박용현
Korean I know not, BUT:
Japanese - " Sumi masen"
Literally = "It is a terrible thing"
(2) No, the word please is commonly used in many English speaking countries, often almost without thought. It is polite to use it and in fact may indicates rudeness NOT to use it.
The use of "please is so ingrained" in much of English speaking society that children are corrected almost as a standard joke if it is omitted. "Pass the butter". 'What do you say ?' "Pleeeeeeeease". Passes butter . This may be parent to child but may even be done among children. Here, NOT using please is often noted as rudeness while including it goes unnoticed.
Manager to secretary: "Please arrange a taxi to Brownson's at 10:30 am" The please is unnoticed.
"Arrange a taxi to Brownsons at 10:30am" May be said, depends on familiarity. Maybe OK to secretary who works with you. Not OK to eg desk staff at hotel (even if you feel that they are below your social level")
Even adding qualifiers such as "Would you..." to increase the politeness level is not seen as at all servile among approximate equals and omission may be seen as rudeness from a social or business "higher level" person.
"Would you please arrange a taxi ..." To hotel desk staff. Polite. NOT at all servile. Expected behaviour and unremarked.
In informal situations (family or friends) please may be omitted but its inclusion is not servile and not usually noticed.
"Pass the butter"
To a stranger in a cafe when there is butter on the next table and not yours. "Pass the butter to me (!)" Expect to be ignored, grinned at with no reponse, punched or just throught very rude. Entirely reasonable: "Excuse me, would you mind passing me that butter dish". Not seen as servile. Does not detract from standing. Does not imply you are less equal.
Standard by-the-book request from Airline Captain to "1st officer when mountain suddenly looms out of fog and he wants maximum emergency power:
"Go around power, Please".
Note: I am an"antipodean". I live in New Zealand. We speak the Queen's English - albeit with an accent according to 'the Brits'. Our usage may vary somewhat but I believe the above is liable to be a good enough guide in most cases. You will get into more trouble by omitting please than by over-using it.
In English, please can be used to be polite, as in "Please pass the salt", or sarcastic and to express both disbelief and impatience, as in "Oh, please!" (which might mean, Don't lie to me!, I don't want to hear this story again!, You're being disgusting!). It all depends on your tone of voice and the context in which please appears.
I understand what you mean about using the word in Korean, because in Taiwan, in Chinese, no one says, for example, I would like to have a bowl of shrimp fried rice, please. They say simply, I want shrimp fried rice or just Shrimp fried rice when asked by a worker at an outdoor food stall or in a restaurant what they want to eat. But that doesn't mean that Taiwanese are impolite, just that saying please in certain circumstances isn't the norm.
When I returned to the US after a few years in Japan, I used please and thank you much more often than typical American speakers do, so I got all kinds of comments about how "polite" I was. Maybe Koreans generally feel that shows servility, but I don't think Americans do; however, they do seem to find an excess of politesse unusual and maybe a bit tiresome.
In general, I'd say that it's usually fine to say please when you're asking for things. People who never say please and thank you are considered rude and crude. Just don't overdo it.
As a native British English speaker in "Middle Class" Britain I personally use please less than my peers and do get commented on it — I use the "Would you..." syntax as described by Russell McMahon more than most. With the right intonation I can avoid being rude but I should use "Would you please...".
With a more aggressive form of speech becoming popular in parts of England, associated with the "chav" culture, usage of please shows your desire to be considered higher class than this culture but it's still the norm in the majority of places. Definitely to be used in any non-social environment like at work, when shopping or when hiring a service.