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Why the "why?"

If you ask them a simple question, a LOT of Romanians have a tendency to add a "why?" to the end of their answers.

Like this:
- Hey Cristina, long time no see! How have you been?
- I've been OK. Why?


Or:
- So is that your friend?
- Yes. Why?


Or:
- Did you walk all the way here?
- No, I took a taxi. Why?


My friend Sinziana has this theory:
* Romanians ask "Why?" to find out the true meaning of the question - that there might be something more to the question than what was asked. Or that conversations often start with questions that are very general or open, and the "Why?" after an answer is a reflex, a normal way to continue the conversation.

This could imply that Romanians are actually not used to simple questions which are just that, they might be more used to all questions having a hidden meaning behind them. On the other hand it can also just mean that it's a normal way to converse, and the "Why?" is merely a vehicle.

Iulia, another friend, said this:
* This is just how Romanians are. Germans have a way of being (cold), and Romanians just have this way of speaking, it's in the culture. In Romania, most of the time, a question is more than just a question. "Why?" is both a way to find out the real intention of the question, and also it can be a way to talk out more about the subject.

Myself, I have a small theory that these verbal mechanisms (questions with hidden meanings and "Why?") might be an effect of communism, where the lack of free speech probably had people wanting to find out the true intentions of questions. And before 1989 you had to be a bit careful about what you said, because in Ceau┼čescu's Romania the country was full of informants that would turn you in if you said something "dangerous".

So this must have had a huge psychological effect on people then. And those people are the parents of today's young people, so even young people now have been influenced by their parents and are probably carrying around fragments of a pre-1989 mindset. And thus "Why?" is still being used.

Just a thought. :)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

:)) Well for 'Is that your friend' the why can mean 'why, are you interested in him/her?'. For me most of the times it s a why asked out of curiousity and mostly a reflex-qt... Interesting you theory but what out parents experienced has nothing to do with our curiousity for 'what s behind your words'.

Anonymous said...

why do you complain?!:)

go 2 spain,trust me if a friend of yours introduce you 2 a stranger ,he kiss your cheek,twice,and it doesn't matter if he is a guy or a girl.

another example: the americans ,and l'm not generalizing,cuz we started to lent the expressions and translate it in romanian language. when they meet a stranger some of them say:"hello/hi.how are you?"...and to be honest l find it kind of stupid even if is said for civility.

the italians...usually when they see you the next day,after saying hi they ask you if you sleeped well...and l also find it stupid and very superficial....and trust me is not happening once...they ask you dayly the same f*&^ing question if they see you


the turks: they kiss the cheek 3 times,and also the arabs and kurds,the dutch people...which also wierd..why 3 times?!


the why question is endless...don't try to find a reason...just be reasonable.each country has her culture.some of them are similar some of them strange/akward/wierd...against all odds:)


l hope l made a point....don't try to undertsand people.accept them as they r.l havent seen perfection....at least not till now!and to be honest l don't even believe in perfection,l find it boring...a waste of time. and we are curious,that's another reason why we ask "why?'.