Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 12:10:35 -0400 From: Ron Butters 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.