Date: Thu, 23 Oct 1997 13:16:06 -0400
From: Allan Metcalf AAllan[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: Damned if you do, damned if you don't
If a linguist doing fieldwork in another language were to express anger at
the ritual greetings used in that language, we would be shocked at such
unprofessional behavior. And at such ignorance of the functions of various
speech acts. We know that every utterance is not meant to convey a literal
Yet when the linguists on this list encounter ritual greetings in our own
language - they get furious. Either they are furious because others use
ritual greetings, or they are furious because others don't.
So in present-day American English, perhaps the function of ritual greetings
is to mutually antagonize the interlocutors.
- Allan Metcalf