Some things we say are weird

I came into the office this morning, and, as we do in our society, I greeted my co-workers with a “morning,” as I’m sure was being said all over our region around the same time.

“I thought you don’t say ‘good morning,’” said a co-worker. Apparently we had had the discussion previously about how saying “good morning,” doesn’t really make sense to me, because it’s probably not, actually, a good morning – at least it isn’t by the point you usually say it.

So I again explained, as I had before, that I technically only said “morning,” and left out the “good,” which made it a simple statement of fact. It is technically morning. True thing.

Which started that discussion again.

Maybe if you said “good morning” at noon, in recognition that the morning was, in fact, pretty good, it would make sense, but not when you first get to the office.

After all, you have no idea, before the morning actually happens, whether it is going to be “good” in any sense of the word. Maybe it will be terrible.

Heck, maybe it already is. Maybe the person you are saying it to woke up this morning to bad news.

Is it a question? Are we asking if the person is having a good morning so far? We don’t add an upward inflection, generally, which would imply that we’re looking for an answer, so I would guess not. Then we thought, “Maybe you’re saying you hope the person has a good morning.”

If that’s the case, shouldn’t we just say that? Like, is it really a huge hassle to say, “have a good day,” if that’s what we actually mean?

Anyway, it got me thinking about other greetings and phrases that don’t really make sense.

“Goodbye.”

What is that? Seriously, what does that mean?

I looked it up. Apparently “Goodbye” has been in use since the 16th century and is a contraction for “God be with ye.”

Okay, so that one makes a bit of sense now, but I know that there are a ton of people who say that when they totally don’t mean it. I know atheists, for example, aren’t wishing for an entity that they don’t believe exists to be with someone in their absence after they leave the room.

“You’re welcome,” is another one I don’t really get.

We teach our kids to say “thank you” when someone does something for them, and to say “you’re welcome” when someone says “thank you” to them, but do we know why we’re teaching them to say that?

“You’re welcome” is short for “you are welcome to my help,” but is that what we mean when we say it?

When we say “you’re welcome” after someone says “thank you,” we imply that the person is welcome to continue to ask for favours, but maybe they’re not. Maybe we should sometimes say, “that’s the last one,” if that’s how we feel. But that would be rude, even if it’s what we want to say. So we just say “you’re welcome,” and hope the other person doesn’t say, “really? Okay, how about now you….”

Or what if your boss is thanking you for doing something that’s actually just part of your job? We still say, “you’re welcome,” because it’s polite, when what we mean is, “I did it because you’re paying me.”

I have less of a problem with “you’re welcome,” because I think we SHOULD be telling people they are welcome to our help. The world would be a better place if people actually meant that when they said it. The same can not be said for “good morning,” though.

Good morning, in my opinion, is still nonsense.

You’re welcome.