Date: Thu, 23 Oct 1997 13:16:06 -0400 From: Allan Metcalf 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 meaning. 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 greetings is to mutually antagonize the interlocutors. - Allan Metcalf