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So long

Posted by Baceseras on October 21, 2010 at 14:38

In Reply to: So long posted by Victoria S Dennis on October 21, 2010 at 14:00:

: : : I have always been curious as to how the phrase "so long" was created to mean see you later.

: : I can find no reference to an origin, but I think that I read once that the expression is based on the Jewish equivalent "shalom", which sounds like "so long."

: So did I, and I don't believe a word of it. The expression arose in mid-19th century USA, not a place and time in which anybody anywhere was using "shalom" in everyday speech. I can *just about* believe that it derives from the Hebrew "Selah" ("God be with you"), which tail-ends many of the Psalms, untranslated in the Kign James Version. People who had grown up going to church every Sunday and hearing the psalm of the day routinely sign off with this mystifying ending, might *just* have rationalised it as "So long" and started using it for a joke as an everyday farewell. (VSD)

[Perhaps possibly and maybe, but one thing for sure: “long” in American speech (elsewhere, too) occurs as a clipped form of “along.” And “along” can be understood as “[go] along with [you]” - not in the sense of “accompanying you,” but simply “go your way.” (The “with” avoids any tone of brusque command: it makes “you” an English equivalent of the Latin dative case: thus, “going-along [is] pertaining to you.” An acknowledgment, not a command.) This, to me anyhow, appears to be what is compressed in “so long.” I hope no one will mistake it for a myth of origin. The analysis trails _after_ the phrase, which I think is natural enough to have been spoken instantaneously, without forethought, and its meaning clear without all this analysis. - Baceseras.]