The history of saluting

Tue Aug 3 23:22:45 UTC 2004

        In American civil society, which is relatively egalitarian, I don't think there is a rule as to who initiates the exchange.  If, for example, the CEO of a large corporation happens to pass a messenger from the corporate mailroom, and the two of them know each other slightly, then either may speak first.  A caveat may be that the messenger is unlikely to speak if the CEO appears to be busy or distracted, or if the messenger is uncertain whether the CEO will recognize him, while the CEO is less likely to have these reservations.  On the other hand, if they have spoken in the past, the messenger is more likely to speak first, perhaps because the CEO's presence immediately draws his attention.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Duane Campbell
Sent: Monday, August 02, 2004 7:38 PM
Subject: Re: The history of saluting

I find it interesting that the lower rank initiates the exchange. In
many, if not most, casual encounters any exchange is initiated by the
person of higher standing or doesn't happen. The extreme example_ You do
not speak to the Queen unless she first addresses you.

As I think about this, though, I'm not so sure. Is there some cut off
point involving the social distance of the two people? I live in a small
town where everyone considers everyone else to be of equal standing, at
least in our popular mythology. There is nobody I would run into on the
street here that I don't know by first name, and I don't have a boss. In
a university setting, if an instructor approaches the university
president on the quad, who, if anyone, would speak first, if at all?


I am Duane Campbell and I approve this message.

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