Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 09:43:06 -0500
From: Tom Creswell creswell[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CROWN.NET
Subject: Re: Damned if you do, damned if you don't
Thank you for taking a professional stance and trying to make clear to the
many who have expressed outrage at what they presume to be the motivation
and "meaning" of ritual greetings that such phatic utterances express only
of the existence/presence of theperson to whom they are addressed.
From: Allan Metcalf AAllan[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
To: ADS-L[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UGA.CC.UGA.EDU ADS-L[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UGA.CC.UGA.EDU
Date: Thursday, October 23, 1997 12:11 PM
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
is to mutually antagonize the interlocutors.
- Allan Metcalf