Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 12:10:35 -0400

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

Subject: annoying phatic utterances

as an athiest, do you take similar offense

at goodbye (god be with ye)

See my later posting on this. "Good-bye" has lost whatever good-driven

origins it may have had; thils is largely because it has a primary

communicative function (i.e., to signal the termination of a conversation or

the withdrawal from presence). "Bless you!" has no primary communicative

function--as Tom Cresswell rightly points out, it is functionally totally

phatic, and therefore for me (and for many other native speakers) it seems an

annoying, pointless intrusion with presumptious religious overtones (even

though many speakers who use it intend no particular religious message). As I

keep saying, I personally find it annoying and mindless, and I refuse to say

it myself--but, hey, it is a free country and people are free to say lots of

things that I (or you) may find annoying or presumptious. I do think that it

is a useful bit of scientific linguistic obserevation to point out that there

are native speakers of American English who DO find it annoying--and ([Mike

Montgomery and Larry Horn take special note:] bless me!) I hope that all the

dyed-in-the-wool blessers may find it useful to know that not everybody

welcomes being blessed. Not that I expect a sea-change in phatic usage as a

result of my observations.