Saturday, March 21, 2020

Maintaing Distance When Greeting

In the current state of the world, shaking hands is verboten. Originally the recommendations were to fist bump, touch elbows, pat shoulders, even shake using feet . . . 

Those alternatives are also now prohibido, the health authorities and leaders having advised that we should now stay at least 1.5 metres away from each other, preferably more. That means not only no touching, it also means not even any proximity. 

As regards the greeting “hello”, this derives from calling out “hallo” when the fox was spotted in a fox hunt. It became a greeting after Charles Edison advocated its use in answering telephone calls. “Goodbye” comes from the 16th century as a contraction of “God be with ye”. 

I propose that we abandon shaking hands, touching shoulders, shaking feet and such nonsense, and that we also forget about the hellos and goodbyes, in favour of . . . 

We can even use the initial greeting and response . . . 

My resolve is to start using the above salutation on first contact and on departure at every opportunity. I would be well pleased if those I greet use the response; should I be greeted first, then I will respond appropriately. 

It will be my contribution towards containment of the coronavirus outbreak. 

A final contribution to the above: below is a repost on how Leonard Nimoy brought the Vulcan salutation to Star Trek. 

Vulcan or Jewish? 

Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock, has been a devout Jew his entire life. In an adlib while filming, he made the above hand sign and spoke the words “Live long and prosper”, which is in fact a benediction which rabbis give over their congregations. The rabbi's hand gesture accompanying the blessing is representative of the Hebrew letter Shin, which begins the word Shadai, one of God's sacred names. 

In the Jewish blessing, the sign is made with both hands with the arms outstretched, and the palms facing downwards: 

Nimoy modified it into an upright one handed salute. 

Nimoy used it for the episode “Amok Time” which opened the second season. In that episode he feels the call to go back to his home planet to mate with his betrothed bride. The script called for Vulcans to greet each other by touching each other’s shoulders but Nimoy felt this was inappropriate in that Vulcans are touch-telepaths (remember the Vulcan mind meld?). Nimoy drew upon his own Jewish background to suggest the salute. 

He did not explain its derivation at the time. The series creator, Gene Roddenberry, probably thought it was a variation on the two finger peace sign popular with hippies at the time the series was being made, the sixties. Many thought this of the salute at the time. 

Final note: 

In the Vulcan greeting when the words “Live long and prosper” are spoken, the response is “Peace and long life”. This is similar to a traditional greeting in Hebrew: "Shalom aleichem" (peace be upon you) and the answer, "Aleichem shalom" (upon you be peace.) Muslims have a similar greeting in Arabic. 

NASA astronaut Terry W. Virts performed the Vulcan salutation from the International Space Station on February 27, 2015, shortly after hearing of Leonard Nimoy's death. Nimoy's hometown of Boston is seen directly below. 

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on Feb. 28, 2015 tweeted this photo in a final salute to Leonard Nimoy.

Live long and prosper, readers

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