Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 10:31:41 -0800
From: Peter McGraw pmcgraw[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]LINFIELD.EDU
Subject: Re: hello/good-bye
I thought 1) the heavy irony elsewhere in my message, combined with 2) the
fact that a recent post pointed out that an etymology doesn't mean a word
retains its historical meaning forever, and 3) the quotation marks would
make it clear that my "'really means'" was also intended ironically.
Another lesson in the pitfalls of communication without benefit of
I guess my point was not whether either expression has ANY meaning, but
rather that neither has RELIGIOUS meaning today. (And that "good-bye" is
an obvious example of another greeting that lacks this religious meaning
precisely because it no longer means what it once did.)
On Thu, 23 Oct 1997, RonButters wrote:
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.