Date: Thu, 23 Oct 1997 16:07:12 -0700
From: Peter McGraw pmcgraw[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]LINFIELD.EDU
Subject: Re: sociolinguistic competence
On Thu, 23 Oct 1997, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
On "Bless you" specifically: It is of course intended as a "tail wag"
(referred to generally as phatic communication). But the presumed
sharing of a religious/theological frame of reference is what I react
to when I remain silent--not angrily but as a kind of quiet protest.
Even though I happen to be a Humanist, I don't feel any more need to be
silent in protest when someone says "Bless you" (How dare that stranger
not know my religious beliefs!) than I do when someone says "Good-bye,"
that heavily theological expression that "really means" "God be with
you." (Then of course there's "Hell-o," but that's another story.) I
don't for a moment consider that either expression has anything to do with
prayer except in etymological terms.
Whether the stranger "blessing" me is religious or not, he or she means
well by the greeting, and I say "thank you" (for directing a well-meaning
expression my way, whatever your particular frame of reference may be).
The German "Gesundheit" is more acceptable to me, since it only means
"Good health," but of course few know it or use it anymore.
Huh? I say it--and hear it--all the time!