Other options are possible but they range along a scale of markedness in theascending numerical order:3.
alaykum/ ‘And on you’;4.
alaykum issalam/ ‘And be it on you’;5.
alaykum issalam warrahma/ ‘And be it on you and (His) mercy’;6.
alaykum issalam warahmatu llah/ ‘And be it on you and God’smercy’;7.
alaykum issalam warahmatu llahi wabarakatuh/ ‘And be it on youand God’s mercy and His blessings’,(where …n = any number of respondents.)
It is worth noting that all the forgoing examples are used in the Jordanian varietyexcept 2, which is very infrequent. Yet, when it occurs it is usually followed with/warahmatu llah/ ‘And God’s mercy’.In terms of the theory of preferences (see Blimes 1988), all of the preceding RGsare both religiously and socially prescribed, but none is strictly tied to sociolinguisticvariables such as socio-economic status or educational background. It is clear,however, that the absence of preference increases with the increase of members in agroup. It can be further noticed that markedness for a strictly religious person would be judged to run in the descending order. That is, what is conventionally the mostunmarked, e.g. 2 above, would be taken by such a person as highly marked since it istoo faithful. Nevertheless and as is empirically tested, Iraqi as well as JordanianArabic speakers generally avoid redundancy in greeting exchanges when hyperbolesare not called forth. This, according to the simple principle of ‘the same or more so’(cf. Ferguson 1981:27), is not a violation of religious obligations; it only demonstratesthe least faith.In the Arab culture, an adult normally greets the whole group even if only one person is known to him. This is particularly the case when one person passes by or joins the group.
The function, however, is not necessarily to maintain solidarity withthe whole group. A GG is viewed a social etiquette in addition to being a religiousobligation; all Iraqis and Jordanians, irrespective of religious affiliation, greet eachother alike. But alien to the Arab culture would be a scene to the San people inBotswana, South Africa, where a visitor entering a scene already occupied by one or more persons is met by the residents with the neglect of his appearance. The visitor “silently approaching the scene behaves as if he were an ‘invisible man’, and whether he speaks or not, the residents behave as if they had not perceived his appearance”(Kitamura 1990:130).
In our culture, a passer-by, when known to the group, is verymuch likely to be criticized publicly or otherwise by at least one member of the groupon not saying ‘hello’. The most frequently heard expression in such cases, within ahearing distance, would be:8a. (IA) /yaba sda
wa/ ‘what’s in the air?’ i.e. ‘Hi, there!’8b. (JA) /malna yaba/, /su idda
wa/ or /wa
alaykum issalam/ ‘What iswrong?; what is in the air?; hi there!’.In both cases, these function as attention-getters. Some form of apology on the part of the passer-by is then predictable. One such form which is often coupled with a justification, sincere or otherwise, would be:9a. (IA) /?asif … fikri mas ul/ ‘Sorry, I’m busy-minded’.