In other languages, though, the word or phrase seems a bit unusual.
In German, it's "bitte schön" (or just "bitte"), with "bitte" being part of the verb "bitten", meaning "to beg". I remember seeing it translated once as "please nicely", in fact.
In Dutch, the response is something like "alstublijft" (my Dutch spelling has never been great), which is again the kind of word you'd use to ask for something politely.
And, courtesy of my girlfriend, the Estonian word is "palun", again coming from the verb "to beg".
So does anyone have any ideas about why this might be?