How fares your Grace? / How do you do, sir? / Why, how now, ho! / How does thy Honor? / How fares my gracious Sir? / How now, Sirrah? / How do you, man?
Those greetings are but a few examples of phatic language from Early Modern English (1500 to 1699). They’re all from Shakespeare. Only one is conceivable in today’s speech: How do you do, sir? It’s formal but still natural-sounding.
So what is phatic language? It’s the everyday talk that begins and ends our conversations. Hello and goodbye are archetypal examples. Phatic language is used for the general purpose …
Something to Consider
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