Julian Sanchez weighs in:
I’m fairly solidly in the Guesser camp on the wholethough I can’t hold a candle to my late maternal grandmother, a paragon of New England reserve. As was explained to me before one of her visits as a young child, I should not expect her to be so unspeakably gauche as to ask that I “please pass the potatoes” (say) during dinner. One might as well just leap on the table and plunge one’s head directly into the bowl. No, if the potatoes were down at my end of the table, she would say something along the lines of: “Oh, do have some potatoes” or “Have you tried the potatoes?”it being understood that the civilized response was “Oh, no, you have some.” As I say, I don’t take it quite that far, but I do think I internalized the association between civility and indirectness.