Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 17:17:43 -0500


Subject: Re: Blessings and other southern euphemisms

All my life I've heard relatives and family friends of all ages from Ark

and Tex use "Bless your heart" for a wide variety of purposes. It could

even be an equivalent to the currently "popular" "I feel your pain." When

used to or about small children, the adjective "little" often was included.

If this adjective is used in the expression addressed to an adult the

expression has varying degrees of put-downness in it. The at-the-moment

meaning of the term is conveyed more by intonation and accompanying gesture

than by words. The words constitute a set phrase, not a command or

invocation. Even atheists use it. The term almost always has positive

connotations, but can be turned negative or ironic with appropriate

intonation and context. Irony far more common than negativity.