This morning at −32°C/−26°F whilst collecting firewood outside my house, I called to my neighbour (brushing snow off his idling truck): "Cold enough for you?" To which he replied with a nod.
Later on, I reflected that the exchange was effectively identical to the following:
"Hello. How are you?"
Did my question, "Cold enough for you?" (which I hear a lot around here) constitute a greeting, or did my neighbour and I simply bypass the formalities and get straight to the important stuff?
I could imagine a similar exchange in, well, just about any season in the UK:
"Lovely day" (spoken ironically).
"Mm" (spoken grimly).
Are these exchanges about the weather simply another form of greeting, a replacement to "hi," "hello," "good morning," "how are you?" and so on? Or did my neighbour and I, having a small measure of familiarity, skip the formality in favour of moving on to the important stuff. (Or was it just too cold for us to care?)
If I had a staff person and breezed into his office asking if he'd submitted the quarterly report without first greeting him, that would be rude. But if I breezed into his office and said "Cold enough for you?" without saying hello, it seems to me that this would be less rude.
My hunch is that this sort of exchange is actually a form of greeting, defined on Wikipedia as "an act of communication in which human beings . . . intentionally make their presence known to each other. . . ."
However, Wikipedia's list of greetings on the same page does not include exchanges about the weather.
Therefore: do exchanges about the weather constitute greetings? Are there other fairly stock exchanges that also constitute greetings, that aren't the usual "hello" etc.? Or are these exchanges something else altogether?