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“Have nou godenai day” : A phatic mediaeval farewell?

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“Have a good day” and its variant “have a nice day” are among our most common forms of modern leave-taking. Although these expressions may seem modern, they can be traced back to a twelfth century English romance, entitled King Horn, and can also be found in a number of other mediaeval works. Linguists typically treat the expression as token politeness that does not warrant detailed analysis. However, an examination of the mediaeval works containing the expression shows that, from its earliest recording, it appears in unexpected contexts and can carry deeper meaning. Rather than being merely a phatic phrase, the expression has long been used as a meaningful rhetorical device. This diachronic study explores the expression “have a good day” from its earliest occurrence to modern times and shows its potential to move beyond phatic use.

Keywords: diachronic; historical linguistics; history of English; irony; phatic expressions; pragmatics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 31, 2022

This article was made available online on October 4, 2022 as a Fast Track article with title: "“Have nou godenai day”.A phatic mediaeval farewell?".

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