Date: Thu, 23 Oct 1997 22:34:04 EDT

From: RonButters RonButters[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: hello/good-bye

Peter writes:

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."

No, "Good-bye" does not "really mean" "God be with you" (whatever its

history). It "really means" 'this conversation is over' or 'I am leaving'.

"Bless you," on the other hand, has no meaning at all (other than 'I am being

conventionally polite by uttering this prayer formula'). The difference is

that "Good-bye" serves a conversational function, while "Bless you" has no

primary function whatever.