How come in Italian the same word is used to express the action of offering/inviting and afterwards to respond to the person who thanked you. What's the origin of it and how come the verb "to pray" is used for this?
As far as I can tell sequence you cited doesn't exist. In fact if you use 'prego' the other person responds 'grazie', and you cannot further adding anything, not even 'prego' again.– Kyriakos KyritsisDec 17, 2013 at 21:09
2@KyriakosKyritsis That is not true. I heard it numerous times used as the English equivalent of "with welcome", French equivalent "avec plaisir" etc.– symbiotechDec 17, 2013 at 22:42
2@KyriakosKyritsis he's referring to the two different meanings and usages of the word prego: the first is "here it is/here you are/please", the second is "you're welcome"– martinaDec 18, 2013 at 11:35
I don't have any official reference for this, but from a logic perspective it means "la prego", it being a warm and polite invitation to accept an offer (a door held open, for instance).
In the same way, when someone says "Grazie", "Prego" is an invitation to stop thanking - again, polite - because the gratitude has been acknowledged.
@clabacchio, that is not true, the second prego is 'with welcome' 'you're welcome'– ranoDec 18, 2013 at 22:22
2@rano I know ;) but when it comes to the ethimology, that's my answer Dec 19, 2013 at 8:05