Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Greeting Patterns in Midtown Detroit

Greeting Patterns in Midtown Detroit

Leah Esslinger

What is the impact of formulaic greetings in interracial social intercourse? This paper attempts to explore this question by recording observed patterns in Midtown/Cass Corridor area of Detroit, Michigan. 53 different social interactions were recorded and analyzed. Black, white, and interracial greetings were observed. Verbal patterns as well as non-verbal, or gestured, communication are also considered within the scope of the paper. It seems that greetings, especially formulaic greetings, are of great social import. Violating them seems to lead to great discomfort within a social interaction. Perhaps this contributes to self-imposed social boundaries that exist within this region.  While this work studies a small sample size, it seems that making these small communication differences explicit may go some way towards explaining social tension in the area. More studies should be done to fully understand the impact of this work.

April 15, 2013 - Posted by | abstract


  1. This is a very good topic. The abstract would profit from having some specific examples.

    Comment by Ljiljana Progovac | April 15, 2013 | Reply

  2. I am curious as to how the particular interactions were categorized. Did the participants self identify as being black or white or did the author assume what category the participants belonged to?

    Comment by C.A. Donnelly | April 16, 2013 | Reply

  3. This sounds really interesting. I’m not sure what the “formulaic greetings” would be, but I would especially like to read about how you’ve connected the greetings differences to Midtown’s social (racial?…”Race” doesn’t exist biologically I know but the social construct) boundaries. This also interests me because the research was so close to home!

    Comment by Sarah Carson | April 16, 2013 | Reply

  4. This is a really interesting topic. I live in midtown and I tend to find myself observing such interactions as well. I would be interested in hearing more about your analysis and conclusions.

    Comment by Georgia Diamantopoulos | April 21, 2013 | Reply

  5. whatupdoe? :)

    Comment by Sofía Syntaxx | April 30, 2013 | Reply

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