Date: Wed, 29 Mar 1995 09:13:33 -0800


Subject: Re: Gesundheit!

Moved to Berkeley to teach at UCLA?! Wow - and I thought MY commute was long!

The use of "Gesundheit" is certainly not restricted to those with German

ancestry or even to areas with a large population of German descent

(like Cincinnati). It has always been current in my family: my mother is of

English descent and grew up in Texas and Oklahoma, and my father, of Irish

descent, grew up in Iowa. Growing up in California and Oregon, I remember

"Gesundheit" as predominant, with "Bless you!" not unheard of, and I

never noticed any difference later in Wisconsin, Tennessee or Ohio. Only

when I became a New York commuter for six years did I have the experience

(which I marveled at in a city justly famous for rude people) that when

you sneeze in public, invariably some passing stranger says, "Bless you!"

(and never "Gesundheit!").

Peter McGraw

Linfield College

McMinnville, OR

On Tue, 28 Mar 1995, Christopher R. Coolidge wrote:

I had asthma and chronic rhinitis myself as a child, so I heard Gesundheit!

from my mother and grandmother a lot. To me it doesn't make sense to say any-

thing else; after all, why not Health! rather than Bless You! I don't want

to be blessed by anyone without my permission, thank you. My grandmother was

half German, half Scottish; she grew up speaking German as a first language

until she was about five(consequently the only German she remembered in later

years was baby German, so she was ashamed to use it with native German spea-

kers), when her family moved to Berkeley, CA so her father could accept a

post in UCLA's Department of Biology; for those of you with accademic expe-

rience in biology, his name was Jacques Loeb. Though a noted biologist, he

is mostly noted for being wrong these days. I'd be curious to know how many

people in my phonetics class, for example, use Gesundheit! and how many use

something else, and whether that has to do with any German ancestry.