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2. In certain types of greetings, most noticeably ceremonial ones, recognition has already taken place before greetings are exchanged. This means
that "acknowledgment" of another's presence per se cannot be the function
of greeting, unless we redefine the notion of "acknowledgment" to make it
more culture- and context-specific. For example, physical recognition
might have taken place (i.e., participants might be signaling that they have
sighted one another), but context-specific social recognition might still be
needed; that is, participants need to be acknowledged for what they represent or embody in a particular situation or course of action. The act of
greeting, in other words, does not necessarily imply that the speaker has
just encountered the hearer, as proposed by Searle and Vanderveken
(1985:216), but that the encounter is taking place under particular sociohistorical conditions and the parties are relating to one another as particular types
ofsocial personae. This is the case across a number of greetings. It undermines
the possibility of cross-culturally extending speech act theorists' analysis of
English greetings as an "expressive" type of speech act aimed at the
"courteous indication of recognition" of the other party (Searle and Vanderveken 1985:216).
3. Contrary to what is assumed by most existing studies of greetings,
greetings are not necessarily devoid of propositional content; they can be
used to gather information about a person's identity or whereabouts. The
Samoan "Where are y ou going?" greeting, for example, is seeking information about the addressee and, unlike what is argued by Sacks (1975) about
the English "How are you?", in answering the Samoan greeting, a lie is not
the "preferred" answer, or at least not preferred by the one who asks the
question. The questioner would rather find out as much as possible about
the other party's whereabouts. For this reason, the "Where are you going?"
greeting can also work as a form of social control and therefore be quite the
opposite of Bach and Harnish's (1979:51-52) view of the act of greeting (in
English only?) as an expression of "pleasure at seeing (or meeting)" someone. Notes
1. Although the absence of greetings or their relatively rare occurrence in certain
societies has been mentioned attimes—theclassic example being American Indian
groups such as the Western Apache studied by Basso (1972), who are said to prefer
"silence" during phases of encounters that other groups would find ripe for
greetings (see also Farnell 1995)—there is overwhelming evidence at this point that
most speech communities do have verbal expressions that conform to the criteria I
define in this article, although their use and frequency may vary both across and
within communities. (See Hymes's comments about North American Indians in
Youssouf et al. 1976:817 fn. 6.) 90 Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 2. Although Searle and V...
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This note was uploaded on 01/16/2014 for the course ANTHRO 33 taught by Professor Wertheim during the Spring '08 term at UCLA.
- Spring '08
- The Bible