Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cultural variance in saying good-bye

As the majority of the students left each of my finals, they often told each other to have a good break. This is a standard response, I'm not sure I remember anything else besides, "thanks for a good semester."

But why focus on just winter break? Chances are, the teacher and student will never interact in a substantial way again. So shouldn't they be offering each other good luck for the rest of their lives?

The only two options to get that connotation across would be, "have a good life," or, "fare thee well." However, these are both awful. It seems that there is no way to say this in English without seeming snarky or old-fashioned.

Is this a cross-cultural phenomenon? Or is it just because of the way our language has evolved? In Spanish I know that you can say "que vaya con dios", but I'm not sure if this is what people actually say or merely what they teach you to say to pass the AP spanish test.

One intruiging explanation is that more religious cultures might be more likely to wish people good luck for the rest of their lives instead of for the rest of the day, because they would be more apt to view life as a long journey instead of a collection of events. But I don't know, what do you think?