Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 10:31:41 -0800


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:

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.